I don’t consider myself a picky eater, but I’m been having some problems with shellfish lately. And I hate that it’s a textural issue, because then I know it’s all in my head. With scallops, I think to myself that if it’s so soft, it must be undercooked, right? And then I spend the whole meal worrying about it.
Which, geez, people eat scallops raw, I think I can handle them medium-rare, you know? Plus overcooked scallops are terrible, so it’s better to err on the side of less cooked.
But while I sat and squirmed while I ate my scallops, trying not to think about whether they could have used a few more minutes on the stove, Dave gushed over them. Dave loves scallops. And bacon.
Fortunately, the flavors really are fantastic. The subtle sweetness of the scallops goes nicely with the salty bacon, and the rich port sauce is a perfect accompaniment. The sauce is intense, so I liked to dip just the smallest corner of a scallop into it. Mmm. Especially tasty on the crispy browned bites. Because those are the only ones that I trust are cooked enough.
One year ago: Roasted Brussels Sprouts
8 first-course servings or 4 main-course servings
I had a lot of random extra bacon scraps, because the scallops were too big for half a piece of bacon to wrap around each and too small for a full piece.
You see how some of my bacon strips are taller than the scallops? You don’t want that. Trim the edges of the bacon if you need to, because otherwise the scallop doesn’t sit against the pan evenly and it doesn’t get as nicely browned.
The scallops can be wrapped in bacon 4 hours ahead and chilled, covered. Sauté just before serving. The port reduction can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Reheat before serving.
2 cups ruby port
½ cup granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons whole black peppercorns
1 sprig rosemary
16 thin slices (about 16 ounces) bacon
16 sea scallops (about 1 pound), tough side muscle discarded if attached
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1. For port reduction: Bring port, sugar, peppercorns, and rosemary to a simmer in a 2-quart saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, then carefully ignite port with a kitchen match, letting flames die down (this will take a few minutes). Simmer over moderately low heat until sauce is thickened and reduced to about ½ cup, about 30 minutes.
2. For scallops: Heat a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, then cook the bacon until some fat has rendered and the edges of the bacon start to brown, about 1½ minutes per side. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain.
3. Pat the scallops dry and season them with salt and pepper. When the bacon is cool enough to handle, wrap a piece of bacon around each scallop and pierce scallop with a toothpick to secure.
4. Heat the oil and butter in a clean skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Sauté the scallops, turning them once, until the bacon is browned and the scallops are opaque, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to a plate and serve with port reduction for dipping.