Seared Scallops with Champagne-Citrus Beurre Blanc

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I can’t believe I did it!  It may seem like a small thing to all you foodies out there, but I *finally* mastered seared scallops!  I’ve been trying for quite some time – ever since my husband and I had the most divine scallops I’ve ever tasted at Café Bacchus in Morgantown, WV.  I know what you’re thinking.  West Virginia?!  But trust me, these scallops were amazing and were accompanied by a velvety champagne citrus beurre blanc.  I’ve been trying to recreate the recipe ever since.

So what’s the big secret to a nicely seared scallop?  Well, I guess it’s a few secrets, really. Number one:  make sure your scallops are dry before cooking them – pat them down with paper towels.  Number two: make sure the pan and oil are very hot before adding the scallops. And number three is key:  DO NOT CROWD THE PAN.  Cook only a few scallops at a time or you won’t get the crust you are seeking.  This is not a dish to cook en masse however much you’d like to.  It’s secret number three that took me years to learn as I am not the world’s most patient person.

Despite the fact that I have small children and probably wouldn’t make it to see the ball drop, I thought it was imperative to have at least a little bit of a dressy New Year’s Eve celebration.  Which is not to say that I pulled out my little black dress.  Not at all.  I wore jeans.  It was all about what was for dinner and I thought this recipe would fit the bill perfectly.

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Champagne-Citrus Beurre Blanc
Makes approximately 2/3 of a cup

1 medium shallot, sliced
zest of 1/2 a grapefruit
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar (I like to use a sweet white wine vinegar – like a white balsamic or a riesling vinegar)
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
6 Tbsp champagne
1 Tbsp heavy cream
1 stick of butter, cut into small pieces

1. Combine all of the ingredients with the exception of the heavy cream and butter in a small saucepan and simmer until the sauce is reduced by three quarters.
2. Reduce the heat to low.
3. Stir in the heavy cream.
4. Whisking constantly, add the pieces of a butter, a couple at a time, each time allowing the butter to melt and incorporate fully before adding more.
5. Strain the sauce, season to taste, and serve.

Seared Scallops
Serves four

1 1/4 pounds scallops
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil

1.  Remove small side muscle from scallops that have it.
2.  Rinse scallops and pat dry with paper towels. 
3.  Season one side with salt and pepper.
4.  Heat a 12-inch saute pan over medium-high heat.
5.  Add the olive oil when the pan is hot.
6.  When you see the oil *just* smoking a hint, add 6 scallops, seasoned-side down to the pan and cook, not moving the scallops at all, for 1 minute and 3o seconds.  While the scallops are cooking on this side, season the unseasoned side with salt and pepper.
7.  Flip the scallops and cook for 1 minute more on the other side.
8. Remove these scallops from the pan and put on a plate, then repeat the above steps with subsequent batches until you have worked your way through the scallops (2-3 batches).

Putting it all together

Working quickly, once the scallops are done, pour the Champagne-Citrus Beurre Blanc onto the plates to coat the bottoms, then place the seared scallops on top.  Enjoy!

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