Monday, April 30, 2012

Creamy Risotto and Pan-Seared Scallops

I don't know why, but I have always been intimidated by cooking seafood.  I love it, but I was always afraid I'd mess it up somehow and end up giving everyone food poisoning.  Cole loves seafood too even more than I do, especially scallops, so for date night I said "what the hell" and decided to make scallops.  I have to say, I'm not sure why I was so scared to cook seafood.  It turned out delicious, if I do say so myself, and neither one of us ended up in the emergency room with food poisoning.  Successful date night in my book.  Just a reminder that risotto, while quite impressive, can be kind of a pain to make.  You basically have to stir it continuously for at least 30 minutes, so it helps to have an assistant to help do the dirty work :-)

Creamy Risotto and Pan-Seared Scallops

What you need:

5 1/2 cups chicken stock (or broth)
2 T olive oil
1 small sweet onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely shopped
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup Asiago or Parmesan cheese, grated
1 1/2 T fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 T unsalted butter
1 lb sea scallops (fresh or frozen)

What You Do:
First bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a medium pot.  In a pan with high sides (or a pot) heat the oil over medium high heat.  Add the onion and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally.  Add the rice and combine well with a wooden spoon until the rice is well coated with oil, then add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes.  Add the wine and stir until most of the wine has been absorbed by the rice.  Add about 1/2 cup of the chicken stock to the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until it as been absorbed by the rice.    

You will continue doing this for a while, just keep adding the chicken stock and letting the rice absorb the liquid.  Don't forget to stir frequently (and by frequently I mean almost continuously.  I told you that you'd want a partner to help do the dirty work).

Meanwhile, let's get started on the scallops.  Make sure you rinse them really well and remove any of that abductor muscles that are still attached.  Once you make sure they are clean, go ahead and season them.  I stuck with just salt and pepper, but I think when I make this again I'll be a little more creative with the seasoning.  To sear the scallops, add 1 T olive oil and 1 T butter to a large saute pan and place over high heat.  When the pan begins to smoke add the scallops, making sure they don't touch each other.  Sear the scallops until the form a a golden crust, then turn over and do the same on the other side (about 1 1/2 minutes each side).  Don't overcook the scallops or they'll be chewy.   

The aforementioned helper.  Look how excited he is about stirring.  It will take about 30 minutes for the risotto to finish cooking (you may not need to use all the stock).  Once the rice is tender, stir in the cheese and chopped thyme.  

Serve the scallops over the risotto and garnish with fresh parsley.  I also served mine with a couple slices of french bread I put under the broiler for a few minutes and rubbed with a clove of garlic.  

I highly recommend this recipe, although I was not 100% happy with the way the scallops turned out.  Nonetheless, it was delicious, impressive looking, and a great date-night dinner.  Cole gave it two thumbs up, and went back for seconds (and maybe thirds).

If you try this recipe let me know what you think, and if anyone has any tips on pan-searing scallops please share!