Seared scallops with gnocchi and saged brown butter

I often find myself at the grocery store, meandering up and down aisles, looking for inspiration. And like the animated movie Ratatouille from Disney, inspiration can come from anywhere.

My first go-to is to ask The Hubs and children if they have any cravings. If not, I either look for a new ingredient I’ve never tried, an oldie but goodie or something with a pretty box. Cliche perhaps but it gets me every time.

With this said, a few nights ago I was going down the pasta aisle and saw a clear package on the tippy-top shelf with beautifully prepared potato gnocchi. With gnocchi in basket, I headed back to the meats department to find a protein. Chicken? No, we always have chicken. Pork? No, we had that the night before.

Seafood it was.

Scallops were on sale. We were off to get sage and away we went.

Tip: The Hubs and I prefer sea scallops for the meatier texture but you can substitute if you prefer with bay scallops. When purchasing the scallops, you want to make sure they don’t smell fishy. Sometimes the seafood is behind a glass counter so another way to ensure freshness; scallops should not be slimey looking nor solid white (should appear somewhat opaque). They should be firm and standing tall. If they have fallen to the side and look squishy, pass. Now let’s get cooking. You will need:

  • 4 scallops per person
  • 4 sage leaves per person
  • 1 cup of uncooked gnocchi per person
  • 1 1/5 tbsp of butter

Tip: Right before cooking, make sure your scallops are dry (dab with a paper towel is fine).

Follow the packaging instructions to cook the gnocchi. For what we had, we brought two quarts of water to a boil. Gnocchi will float when it’s fully cooked. Drain the water and set gnocchi aside.

Searing the scallops can be done a number of ways. My preferred way is using my Bobby Flay branded 10.5-inch cast iron griddle skillet. This is because I can do it on the stove top but give the scallops the grill marks we love.Whatever sauté or skillet pan you use, bring to a medium-high heat. You need to sear the scallops at this point. You want it to have an instant sizzle when you place the scallops on the pan. This is the reason for the medium-high heat. If you have the heat too low, you end up steaming the scallops, which is ultimately a different recipe. With this one, you want the scallops to have a crust on them when they are done. If the heat is too high, they will get burnt with an uncooked center.

Tip: I never season the scallops until they are cooked. I’ve learned that cooking the scallops bring out a certain sweetness and saltiness. Also, every scallop is different, so be playful with your scallop recipes.

When the pan comes to temperature, oil the pan with your spray of choice or fat of choice (Pam vegetable oil, bacon grease, coconut oil, etc) and add the scallops. Scallops will cook 3-4 minutes per side.

After you’ve flipped your scallops to the second side, add your butter and sage into a second sauté pan with the heat on high. The butter will begin to sizzle and pop, completely normal. We are cooking the butter down to its “brown” stage, which is where the fat solids have rendered. The butter will literally be brown. This takes 3 minutes and it goes fast, so keep an eye on it.Once the bubbles on the top of your butter have disappeared, you have reached the brown butter stage. The sage will have wilted and darkened by this point. Turn off your heat.

Begin to plate your dish by placing the gnocchi on it; scallops to the side or on top of the gnocchi and the sage brown butter sauce drizzled on top. I do not recommend eating the sage. They are pretty for plating but you could also strain the sauce to ensure the sage doesn’t hit the plate.

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