Bay scallops with vodka cream sauce
The most prized bay scallops from Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, (pricey at about $30 a pound, but cheaper than eating out), arrived earlier this month. Local bays are best eaten simply raw with a little lemon juice, sea salt, and a delicate olive oil. Otherwise French them up with this sauce, which begins with pancetta, celery, leek, and fennel, and follows with a generous splash of vodka. Creme fraiche enriches the sauce and adds a hint of tartness.
|6||tablespoons olive oil|
|4||ounces pancetta, half diced and half finely chopped|
|1||stalk celery, finely chopped|
|1||leek (light green and white parts only), finely chopped|
|1||small fennel (outer leaves pulled off), cored and finely chopped|
|Salt and pepper, to taste|
|1||cup clam juice|
|1/4||cup creme fraiche|
|1 1/4||pound bay scallops|
2. Add the celery, leek, fennel, bay leaf, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
3. Remove 1/2 cup of the vegetables from the pan; set aside.
4. Add the vodka to the skillet and, let the vodka reduce until nearly evaporated. Add the water and clam juice. Boil gently to reduce the liquids by half.
5. Strain the sauce into a bowl; return it to the skillet. Stir in the creme fraiche and boil 2 minutes.
6. In another large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over high heat. Season the scallops with salt and pepper. Sear half the scallops, without moving, until just opaque. Transfer to a plate and keep warm. Clean and dry the skillet. Repeat with remaining olive oil and scallops.
7. Divide the scallops among 4 plates, place 2 tablespoons of the reserved vegetables around each one, and top with pancetta and sauce.