Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bacon-Seared Scallops

[Blogger Note: Last week was easily the hardest, most trying weeks in the history of Boston. I usually schedule my posts in advance so that my blog is still active even when I am busy. But last week, in the face of tragedy and mourning and a lifetime of emotions, I decided to delay all future posts indefinitely. Now that we are in a place where the healing process can truly begin, I feel it's now okay to move forward and return to our regularly scheduled blog posts.

So to all who sent their love and support to Boston: thank you. You don't realize how much even the tiniest tribute or mention can be until you are in that position. And to every police officer and emergency responder who pulled a 24-hour shift during Friday's harrowing lockdown: thank you, thank you, a thousand times thank you. It's a proud time to be in law enforcement, and it's a proud time to be a Bostonian.

In Part two of my "Cooking like Ramsey", I tackle the dreaded pan-seared scallops.

Scallops are right up there with risotto on Hell's Kitchen, and, like risotto, it gets sent back more often than not. Overcooked, undercooked, burned, unseasoned…it's frightening to say the least.

But it really shouldn't be.

For this, you will need:
- Large scallops (they need to be at least silver-dollar sized or larger. Small pan-seared scallops is doable, but it's frustrating and have different cooking times)
- Romaine lettuce (at least a whole head)
- Green beans
Not pictured: olive oil, salt, and pepper
And bacon grease! Lots and lots of bacon grease!

My husband and I save our bacon grease, since it's wonderful to cook in (ever fried mini potato wedges in bacon grease? I could kick a puppy to eat that all I want and never gain a pound). It seems counter-productive to my gluten-reduce, crazy-healthy lifestyle, but really -- if you are going to fry something, what is better for your body? Chemical-ridden, super-processed Crisco or the grease from uncured bacon? If you don't save your bacon grease, you can get the right amount of bacon grease after cooking up a pound or two of bacon. So, make an amazing brunch, and save the bacon grease for dinner.

First off: dry off your scallops. You don't want to steam these (plus: water + grease = eyes burnt out by splatter). Lay them out on a few paper towels and pat them dry with a second set of paper towels. Before you cook them, pat them down a second time and sprinkle them with salt.

Secondly: prep everything. Scallops will need your complete attention, so get everything ready. Set up your steamer, wash your lettuce leaves. The last thing you want to do is have your attention diverted.

Steaming vegetables is supremely easy. Place 1/2" of water and a steamer in a sauce pan. When the steamer is set, open the sides until it brushes against the sides of the saucepan. Once the water is boiling, place in the vegetables, put the lid on the sauce pan, and let the vegetables cook for about 8 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, add 2 tablespoons of oil with salt and pepper. I also added lemon pepper, which I absolutely love. I put it on my chicken, I put it on my salads. Absolutely love it.

Add the bacon grease to a large pan. Cold bacon grease looks like ass, there's no way around it. But it heats up fast and the smell is wonderful.

Wait until the bacon grease is so hot that smoke is coming out of the pan. Using tongs, place no more than 8 scallops into the pan. Now as Chris Crocker advised about Britney Spears, leave those scallops alone (thank you, 2008 internet reference). The edges need to caramelize and they won't if you move them around! Give them a solid 2 minutes before checking on them. If the edges look nice and brown, flip them over and cook them for an additional 2.

Once the scallops are cooked, remove them from the pan and add the lettuce to the grease. This time, never leave the lettuce alone. Stir vigorously for roughly 5 minutes. The lettuce will look completely wilted. When the lettuce is down, set it onto paper towels and pat off the excess grease (spoiler alert: there's a lot).

The results are delicious. While it's not as low in calorie as, say, a salad, it's absolutely delicious. Call me, Ramsey.

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