Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Scallops ...

I can never resist a gorgeous plump scallop, so beautiful fried with a wee bit of butter or served with a rasher - oh yumminess!!! Unfortunately the days of heading to the strand at home to fill up a bag with them for free are gone but I do nab them when I see really nice ones at the fish shop with their lovely orange corals attached.


Scallops with potato pancakes, shallot purée and salsa verde


- It's a recipe from Masterchef the Professionals that I tweaked a bit to use ingredients I could locate. Pea shoots in Tralee - ya right! Though actually I did find a bag of pea shoots and watercress one day in Dunnes! I bought them though I didn't have anything scheduled for them cos I reckoned if they were selling they'd be inclined to stock them regularly - an advertiser's dream I am!

Recipe serves 4 as a very substansial starter, but I make the full lot up for the two of us as a main course. (Truth be told would be very adequate for 4 people as a main course if having another couple of courses!)

My photography will have to be excused cos I'm a lazy git and instead of getting out my canon SLR for food photography I usually use the mobile!


For the salsa verde dressing

A punnet of pea shoots - if you can find them!
Large handful flat leaf parsley
100g/4oz capers, rinsed
50g/2oz cornichons or gherkins, drained
1-2 tsp English mustard (or to taste)
75ml/3fl oz-100ml/4fl oz extra virgin olive oil, as necessary
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salsa verde, put punnet of pea shoots and all of the parsley, capers, cornichons (or gherkins) and mustard into a food processor. With the motor running, gradually trickle in the olive oil to form a smooth, thick sauce. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.

For the golden crumbs

4 slices white bread, crusts removed, cut into small dice
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Place the bread cubes onto a baking sheet. Drizzle over the olive oil and, using your hands, mix together until coated evenly. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes.
Remove the bread cubes from the oven and drizzle again with olive oil. Mix again using tongs or a wooden spoon. Bake for a further 4-5 minutes, or until golden-brown and crisp. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Transfer to a food processor and pulse to coarse crumbs.

For the shallot purée

large knob of butter
10 shallots, peeled and chopped
2 celery sticks, trimmed and chopped
300ml/½ pint chicken stock
splash red wine vinegar

Heat the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the shallots and celery and fry for 4-5 minutes, or until softened.
Pour in the stock and red wine vinegar and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until tender. Strain, reserving the cooking liquuid.
Purée the strained shallots and celery in a food processor until smooth, adding a little of the reserved cooking liquid to loosen the mixture if necessary. Keep warm.

For the potato pancakes

4 floury potatoes
2 free-range eggs, separated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g/2oz plain flour
knob of butter
vegetable oil, for shallow frying

Boil the potatoes in salted water for 10-15 minutes, or until tender. Mash with the egg yolks until smooth, then season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed.
Beat the flour into the mashed potatoes, then fold in the egg whites. Divide mixture into 8-12 equal-sized patties.
Heat the butter and oil in a heavy-based frying pan over a medium to high heat until a breadcrumb sizzles and turns golden-brown when dropped into it. Fry the potato pancakes, in batches, for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until golden-brown. Keep warm. Repeat the process with the remaining potato pancakes.

For the bacon, peas and lettuce
4 slices dry-cured pancetta - I used rashers of dry cured streaky bacon.
225g/8oz frozen peas
150ml/¼ pint dark chicken stock (simmered in a saucepan until well reduced)
2 Little Gem lettuces, trimmed and cut into quarters.

Preheat oven to its highest setting. Sandwich the pancetta between 2 heavy baking sheets and cook in oven for 8-10 minutes, or until crisp.
Meanwhile, boil the peas in the reduced chicken stock for 3-4 minutes, or until the peas are tender and the volume of stock has reduced further. Add the lettuce and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, or until just wilted.

For the scallops
25g/1oz butter
1 tbsp olive oil
12-16 scallops, depending on size, meat only

Melt butter with the olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Fry the scallops for just a few seconds on each side, or until just cooked through.

Putting it all together -

To serve, divide the lettuce and peas among the serving plates. Arrange the potato pancakes and scallops on top. Spoon the salsa verde over the top. Drizzle a little shallot purée around the edge of the plate. Pile a slice of crispy bacon alongside, sprinkled with the golden crumbs. Garnish with the pea shoots unless you're in Tralee and haven't been able to find any!

Enjoy with a crisp glass of white wine!

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