Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Caramelized Scallops with Sauteed Leeks

So to make up for our non-Valentine's day, Brett and I decided to have a meal in at home.  One of the things that Brett loves the most are sea scallops.  In fact on the night of our engagement, Brett and I went to the Tabard Inn in DC and he and I shared yes...sea scallops.  I don't know there is something special to us about them.  Or at least it is to me.  During important meals we have had them, so I associate them with Brett.  

While I've made bay scallops before in seafood mixes, I hadn't attempted sea scallops on my own.  So it was off to the googlin.  There are a lot of sea scallop recipes out there, but I kept coming across Thomas Keller's caramelized sea scallop recipe.  Being that in a short while (SQUEEEEE) we will be dining at the French Laundry, I decided his recipe for carmelized scallops would be the best to work with.  

There is something about sea scallops that are just delicious.  While it may be a bit pricey to purchase all of the ingredients, it was totally worth it.  

I made my own touches, like adding leeks that were also slow sauteed.  I also paired this with my roasted balsamic asparagus.  

And as another personal note, Brett proclaimed this to be the best thing I have ever made.  Yeah.  This coming from the guy who says "it's good" for 99% of what I make.  

2 cups kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 cups hot water
8 cups cold water
12 large sea scallops (about 1), preferably dry-packed, tough side muscle removed from each one
8 T unsalted butter, divided
1/4 C sugar
2 bunches of leeks

Pour the salt into the hot water and let dissolve.  Add the cold water and then add the scallops to allow the scallops to brine in the water for 5 minutes.  

In a large stainless steel skillet heat up 6 T butter on low heat.  From this butter you need to make clarified butter.  If you already know how to do this, mazel, if not, then follow these directions.

Heat the butter until it starts to separate and the solids rise to the top.  Here is where you have some options.  Once the solids have rise to the top, it appears no more is rising, then remove from the heat.  Skim from the top with a spoon.  Try to skim off as much as you can.  If you haven't gotten as much as you can, you can pour the butter through a piece of cheesecloth into a container and drain out more of the solids.  Reserve 2 T of the clarified butter for the recipe and the rest to add at the end.

After 5 minutes, put the scallops on paper towels to dry the scallops out.  They should be as dry as you can get them.

Heat up the clarified butter in a skillet over medium high heat.

While the butter heats up, chop the tops from the bottoms of the leeks.  You don't want the dark green parts for this recipe, but you can save them for others.  

Place the leeks aside. 

Heat up 2 T of butter in a pan and add the leeks on medium-low heat and stir occasionally.  Once the leeks have become softer, break apart with a wooden spoon and set aside. 

Pour the sugar into a shallow bowl and dip the flat sides of the scallops into the sugar, twisting in a circular motion to make sure the sugar sticks. 

Add to the hot clarified butter and cook each side for 4 minutes. 

 Add the leeks to the pan where you cooked the scallops and add the remainder of the clarified butter.  Scrape the bottom to get up the browned bits.

Spoon the leek mixture on top of the scallops.  Serve with a delicious side like the asparagus and enjoy!! 

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