This seared scallops recipe, courtesy of Chef Christopher Scanga of Petit Louis Bistro, is a tasty summer dish, perfect for any night of the week. But make no mistake; it’s also worthy of a weekend dinner with your favorite people. Check out their recipe below and get to cooking!
Seared Scallops with English Peas, Morel Mushrooms, and Beurre Blanc
For Beurre Blanc:
1 cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of thyme
10 whole peppercorns
1 shallot, sliced
2 fl. oz. heavy cream
¾ pound salted butter (use high-quality butter, it makes a difference!) large diced
Start by adding the wine, bay leaf, thyme, peppercorn, and sliced shallot to a smallish sized saucepot.
Bring the wine to a boil and cook the mixture until the wine has reduced to the point of syrup and looks as though it has almost entirely disappeared from the pot but be sure to remove from the heat before the mixture begins to develop color and burn on the bottom of the pot.
At this point, add the heavy cream and return the pot to very low heat. Once the cream is hot and begins to slowly simmer, add the cold diced butter gradually to the pot while whisking constantly to form an emulsion.
The resulting sauce should look thick and creamy. If the resulting sauce looks like liquidy melted butter, the emulsion has broken, and you must start from the beginning.
Once all the butter has been added to the sauce, strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve. The sauce can be held warm in a container placed in a warm water bath, or in a thermos while you finish the rest of the components of the dish.
For the Peas:
Try to find English peas from the farmer’s market. Cook in rapidly boiling salted water for around 4 minutes, while checking them along the way to make sure they are not overcooking.
When properly cooked, the peas should still have a little bit of bite to them but should have lost the flavor and texture of being raw. You may increase or decrease the cooking time depending on how large they are.
If they are super tiny you can almost skip the step of pre-cooking them in water, and just gently heat them with melted butter in a pan. If you are blanching the peas ahead of time, be sure to put them immediately into ice water after they are removed from the blanching water. This will arrest the cooking process and help them retain their bright green color.
For the Morels:
Morels early in the season tend to be fairly clean, and do not require much additional cleaning aside from gently brushing off the exterior with a towel while being careful not to damage the exterior of the mushroom.
If buying late in the season, they tend to become “sandy” and may require a quick dunk in cool water to remove excess dirt. Submerging mushrooms in water is never ideal, but if you must do it, it should be done very quickly and the mushrooms should be dried and cooked immediately to remove excess water.
I cook my morels in just butter and salt until they start to become crispy on the outside. You can leave them in the same pan off the heat to stay warm and continue to soak up the butter in the pan until the rest of your dish components are ready.
For the Scallops:
If you can find local scallops while they are in season you should use them over all others. If not, try to find “dry-packed” or “non-treated” scallops. Some scallops on the market are treated with preservatives, which are not ideal. The treated scallops tend to be unnaturally salty and do not sear well. Check the scallops to make sure the abductor’s muscle has been removed.
You can identify the abductor muscle by looking for a small piece of flesh on the side of the scallop the feels tougher than the rest of the scallop. If it is still attached, it can be easily removed by hand by just peeling it off the rest of the scallop. Pat the scallops dry with a towel and season them with salt.
Preheat a sauté pan to medium/high heat and add a small amount of neutral-flavored cooking oil (canola, corn, etc.) to the pan. Place the scallops in the pan and let them cook on one side for about 1-1.5 minutes or until they are sufficiently browned. Turn them over and reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook for an additional minute.
While your scallops are cooking, warm up the peas gently in melted butter. Place a small pile of peas, along with the warm morels in the center of a plate. Drizzle the warm beurre blanc around the peas and morels.
When the scallops are ready to serve, give them a gentle sprinkle of salt, before placing them on top of the pile of peas and mushrooms. Serve 4 scallops per person. Peas and morels are based on guests’ preferences and appetite.