I love, love, LOVE scallops but they can go from super tender to rubbery very quickly if they aren't cooked hot and fast so they are nicely seared on the outside and still opaque in the center. To do this, I like to fry them in a pre-heated pan, finishing them by basting with clarified butter (butter which has had the butterfat removed in order to give it a higher smoke point) then serving with a creamy smoked pea puree and crispy strips of country ham.
The result? True scallop bliss!
SEARED SCALLOPS WITH SMOKED PEA PUREE AND CRISPY COUNTRY HAM
1 slice country ham (I use Cliffy Farms country ham biscuit slices), cut into thin ribbons
10 oz. bag frozen peas, defrosted
2 tbsp. smoked olive oil + ½ tsp. for drizzling (find out how to smoke your own olive oil here)
½ mascarpone cheese
1 cup chicken stock
6 large scallops
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 tbsp. clarified butter (I buy clarified butter at Trader Joe’s but you can make your own with the recipe here)
2 sprigs rosemary
Prepare grill for medium-high heat, approximately 400 degrees. As the grill comes to temperature, combine the peas, smoked olive oil, mascarpone cheese, and ½ cup of chicken stock to a blender or food processor and puree, adding more stock if needed until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Once grill comes to temperature, set a small saucepan on the main cooking grate and add approximately 2 inches of canola oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer, gently drop the country ham strips into the oil. Allow the ham to fry for approximately 2 minutes until they are golden brown and float in the oil. Remove the ham from the oil and set them on paper towels to drain. Remove the saucepan from the grill.
Place a cast iron skillet on the main cooking grate*. Pat scallops dry and season on both sides with Kosher salt and ground black pepper. Add clarified butter and rosemary sprigs to the skillet then set scallops in the skillet. Allow scallops to sear for 1.5-2 minutes until golden brown on the bottom.
Flip the scallops and using an oven mitt, tip the skillet so the butter gathers at the bottom (tip: I set a rolled up strip of foil under one end of the skillet to keep it angled without having to hold it in place). Using a large spoon, begin basting the scallop with the butter and allow it to cook for another 2 minutes until golden on both sides but still translucent in the center.
Remove scallops and plate by placing approximately ½ cup of smoked pea puree in the center of two shallow bowls then top with 3 scallops and place strips of fried country ham on each scallop. Drizzle remaining smoked olive oil over the plates and serve immediately.
* Note: Scallops can be grilled directly on the cooking grate, though cooking them in a cast iron skillet allows for a better sear and enables you to baste them with butter as they cook.