Monday, September 24, 2007

Eating In: Seared scallops with sweet corn hash

On Friday we decided it was time. Time to finally, finally harvest some of our corn.

While we were in the garden we grabbed some other goodies: golden tomatoes, carrots, celery, green onions, squash, some herbs. I was all set to make corn hash, which would accompany the beautiful sea scallops I'd bought earlier in the day.

The only bummer is, we didn't have any bacon. I wanted meaty flavor in the hash, and bacon and scallops are such a great combo, but we didn't have bacon (I know! sinful) so I used some chicken sausage we had in the freezer. After it was made I realized this hash would've been awesome on its own (sans meat of any kind). But it really would've been nice to have bacon, so I'm including that in the recipe below.

And by the way, scallops are one of the easiest, most delicious and most impressive things you can cook at home. I think many people only eat scallops at restaurants, but cooking them at home takes about six or seven minutes, and all you need for awesome scallops are butter, salt, pepper, a good pan and some scallops. Seriously, try it.

Seared Scallops with Sweet Corn Hash

3 strips bacon
1 red onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced, tops roughly chopped and reserved
2 summer squash (patty pan or zucchini), diced
small handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped
8 chives or 3 green onions, chopped or sliced
12 cherry tomatoes, left whole, or 1 large tomato, chopped into large chunks
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 c (or a touch more) beer or dry white wine
4 medium or 3 large ears corn, cut from the cob
4 T butter
8-10 large scallops (about 1lb), muscle removed** and seasoned with salt and pepper on both sides

Make Hash:
In a large skillet, brown bacon over medium heat. Remove bacon and fat, reserving 1-2 tsps of fat in the pan. Crumble bacon and set aside.
Saute onions, carrots and celery over medium-high heat in the bacon fat, allowing vegetables to brown in places, about 5 minutes. Add squash, coriander and cumin, and continue to cook for 3 more minutes.

Deglaze pan with 1/2 cup wine or beer, scraping browned bits off the pan as you go. Use more liquid if you need to, but you want all the liquid to evaporate from the pan (a soupy consistency is not what you want here). Add tomatoes and cook for 1 minute, then turn off heat and add herbs and celery tops. Add 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper, and immediately remove vegetables mixture from pan, reserving in a bowl.

Using the same pan, brown 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Once butter is brown, add corn, season with salt and pepper and stir, cooking, for 3 minutes (for white corn) or 5 minutes (for yellow corn). Remove pan from heat, then add in the vegetable mixture. Set pan aside, or into a warm (200 degree) oven.

Make Scallops:
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium. Working quickly, add 1 tablespoon butter to pan, allow to brown slightly, then add seasoned scallops to the pan. Allow scallops to sear and brown (that means you have to leave them alone and not move them) for 2-3 minutes. Once brown, turn scallops and brown the other side, again for 2-3 minutes (or longer if necessary). Don't worry: Cooking for this amount of time (or slightly longer) will not overcook your scallops; in fact, they'll be warm but rare in their middles.

Spoon corn mixture into shallow bowls and top with scallops. We drank a nice Chardonnay with this and it was great, but a good hoppy beer would work too.

**Scallops are often sold with the tough muscle (which held them to their shells) still attached. It's quite easy to spot these; they're a piece of scallop that looks almost like a scallop Band-Aid on the side. These are easily removed by pulling them off.

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