Saturday, December 15, 2007

Seared "Wild" Scallops with Pancetta and Leeks - It Only Tastes Hard to Make

The best recipes, especially ones you're making for those holiday dinner parties, are the dishes that only have a few ingredients, are simple and fast to put together, and taste like you spent all day on them. This Seared Scallops with Pancetta and Leeks video recipe I just did for is one of those. It would make a great first course, or you could double the portion for a main course. The three main ingredients go together so perfectly that all you'll have to do is avoid the temptation to add a bunch of other stuff. Your restraint will be rewarded.

Many of the grocery stores are now selling frozen "wild" scallops. I got these at Trader Joes, and they are far superior to the "fresh" sea scallops in the fish case. Those fresh sea scallops are all soaked in a preservative brine to keep them white and prolong the self-life. That's why they have that faint chemical aftertaste, and shrink so much when you cook them. Frozen wild scallops are not soaked in any solutions, and have a much better flavor. They are definitely worth finding and serving. Enjoy!
Click here for the transcript and ingredients.


Anonymous said...

Christmas is my dd's birthday so she always gets to pick what we have for dinner. We've had everything from hot dogs, to chips and queso, to steak, to prime rib. This year she wants an appetizer dinner. She will be 13 and has requested escargot, (your easy recipe) lobster bisque, and smoked salmon. We will also have your Wild Scallops. She is not a fan of scallops but this recipe looks like it might convert her.


milkshake said...

Brilliant. I already found by accident that leeks and butter goes great with seafood (we did it on frozen octopus - as small octopus as posible so that it is less rubbery, and remove the skin, after a 1 min boil) but of course Pancetta and lemon juice should make this totally delightful combination. I don't cook but I think I will give this one a try.

Aimee said...

I appreciate your transcript of the video because it saves me alot of time by writing it all down as I usually do for your videos. However, was wondering could you list the ingredients so I don't need to read through the transcript and fish them out?Thanks.

Chef John said...

I'm glad you are enjoying these free videos. And that you are finding the transcripts to the free videos helpful. They are actually posted by and unfortunately since I am a one man operation, spending all my available time filming, editing, posting and maintaining the 2 webistes, I dont plan on (or have time to) pull out the ingredients and post them here.

However, I would welcome any viewers (of these free videos) that has time to fish out the ingredient list, and post it here for the benefit of viewers like yourself. It would be a great way to contribute to the site, and I'm sure would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for watching!

lily said...

This looks so good. I LOVE pancetta and anything together. I'll be trying this soon. TY.

Aimee said...

This is my small contribution to one of my favorite websites. Ingredients to the Scallop Recipes:
6 sea scallops,
1 oz. pancetta "Italian Bacon"
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 leeks
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp pancetta oil
2 Tbsp water

Chef John said...

Nicely done. Thanks!

rgoodwin said...

I tried this one tonight myself, as day 3 of my annual low carb/atkins cycle (bye bye holiday pounds!) :)

It came out great, if a little oily ( I think I overdid the pancetta in phase 1).

My biggest problem (as always) happened during the carmelizing phase. The scallops pretty much came out great, excellent golden color, but the pan started to burn/blacken "around" them. This seems to be a common problem with my "browning", and of course ruined the pan for the lemon sauce. I'm using an old Magnalite pan, could that be the problem?

Chef John said...

the pan sounds fine. Did you make the sauce and it tasted burnt? You'd be surprised how dark the "fond" can get without any "off" flavor.

rgoodwin said...

I would say it tasted "acrid" at best :) I just don't seem to notice you getting "blackened"/burned spots in your videos, which would seem to ruin any sauce.

What kind of pan do you use, btw? My Magnalite is as "clean" as I can get it, but I think its age and its non-non-stick-ness may be contributing factors.

Chef John said...

I used a non-stick Calphalon hard-anodized aluminum pan.

Stephanie said...

I made this last night! Except my husband doesn't like ANY pork products so I replaced it with roasted whole garlic cloves.
Came out nice :)

yumhwa said...

I've always had problems getting criss-crossed char marks on my scallops. I use a griddle pan for that and on high heat i will always get the scallops sticking to it which ruins the surface of the scallops as bits of it peel off, pretty much destroying everything. Is there a method of preventing that frm happening? I used to think that perhaps if the scallops spend less time on the griddle pan it'll be less likely to stick. And on that assumption, wld it be logical to cook the scallops off just a little bit first and thereafter searing them briefly on the griddle pan just to get the charred marks? Actually, now that i've said it, it sounds ludicrous and methodically redundant. But just how do you do it??

Chef John said...

Yes, because of the extremely high water content scallops are really really hard to get grill marks on. Thats why I seared in a non-stick pan instead of a grill pan.

Unless you have a true non-stick grill pan it's not worth it. BTW, the grill marks you see in magazines are usually painted on by food stylists.

ristretto said...

This dish was terrific, even with a bit of bacon serving as pancetta's stunt double.
Thanks for the inspiration and guidance, Chef John.
(uhh...those grill marks are PAINTED ON!?!! Sheesh!)

Anonymous said...

scallops are so yummy

Anonymous said...

I made this the other day and oh my! Fantastic! Thank you for your simple yet great recipe!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for an awesome, awesome recipe Chef John!

I made this tonight for my wife and me to celebrate my brithday, and it turned out fantastic.

I tossed the leeks and pancetta with some home-made gnocchi and served this with your asparagus and proscuitto recipe (I used pancetta, obviously). I made a few rookie mistakes but it still turned out great. What a meal!