Saturday, April 10, 2010

Scallops with Lentils

Scallops with Lentils

I clipped this recipe from Bon Appetit, back in 2006, and have had it on my list of things to try ever since. 

Scallops are so easy to cook well at home.  And lentils can be unexpectedly luscious.  So, it seemed like these two could be a good fit. 

But I could never find the French lentils around here.  They are so much better than the common lentils.  I used to get them at Whole Foods when I was in NYC.  Then, I discovered Wegman's had canned Italian lentils.  What to look for is Lentilles du Puy.  They are a very good alternative.

Twice I have tested this recipe and last Friday night I served it to guests.  Most of it can be made ahead, a big plus for entertaining. And for this particular night, we weren't sure what time our guests from out-of-town would be arriving.

Shallots are a key ingredient, but I didn't have any so I used a Mayan onion and it worked fine.  I cut back the recipe by about 1/3 because I was cooking for 4, not 6. 

Pan-Seared Scallops with Lentils, Bacon and Cider Reduction
from Deborah Snow of Blue Heron Restaurant, Sunderland, MA who was featured in Bon Appetit, 9/2006
Serves 6
For the marscapone cream:
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 T. chopped shallots
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1 t. grated lemon peel
1/2 t. chopped fresh chives
For the cider reduction:
2 cups apple cider
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup chopped shallots
For the lentils:
6 whole cloves
1 medium onion
6 cups water
1 1/2 cups French green lentils (12 ounces) or 2 cans of Lentilles du Puy
2 bay leaves
6 slices thick cut applewood smoked bacon, cut crosswise 1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup shallots
1 t. chopped fresh thyme
For the scallops:
18 scallops, patted dry
6 T. butter, divided (I omitted)
2 T. olive oil

First thing I would recommend doing is making the cider reduction and set it aside.  It's just a reduction to intensify the flavors.  Put the apple cider and apple cider vinegar and shallots in a heavy pan and boil until reduced so you have only 1/3 of what you start with.  Takes about 15 minutes.  The recipe says to strain off the solids but I skipped this step, as I was going for a more rustic presentation versus fine dining.  The cider reduction can be made 1 day ahead and rewarmed.

Then, make the marscapone cream that will go into the lentils.  In Bon Appetit recipe, they serve it as a sauce on the scallops, but I think it works better to add it to the lentils, to add flavor and creaminess.  This can also be made ahead by one day.

Place wine and shallots in a heavy small saucepan.  Boil until almost dry, about 6 minutes.  Add cream.  Boil until reduced by half, about 2 minutes.  Stir in marscapone, lemon peel, and chives.  I should have paid more attention to my saucepan.  I was cooking all 4 different components at once.  It got a little crazy.  So, I let it get a little brown, but it still tasted great.  Good thing I was going for a rustic presentation. 

The lentils can be cooked one of two ways.  If you have dry French lentils, you would put them in water with the cloved onion and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil, then reduce until tender, about 30 minutes.  If you are using canned lentils, they are already cooked, so the goal is to add flavor without letting them break down into mush.  I did this draining them very well in a strainer, then putting them in the saucepan with the cloved onion and bay leaf, and a little water, maybe 1/3 cup, and very gently simmered them, on ultra low, for about 30 minutes.  Discard the bay leaf and the cloved onion.  Drain if necessary.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon until crisp, remove it to drain, then break it into little bits.  Fyi - it was worth it to look for apple wood smoked bacon versus using regular bacon.

Pour off most of the fat, then saute the shallots until golden brown. 

To the lentils (which should be drained by now or dry),  add the chopped bacon, shallots, and thyme.  Stir in the marscapone cream.   (Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this step.)  Your lentils are now ready.  You can make ahead by a couple of hours.

Then, I started my asparagus, in a cover pan, with a 1/2 inch of water and let it boil for 4 minutes covered and then another 4 uncovered until dry, and then added a little olive oil and salt and pepper.

Saute the scallops for 3 minutes on each side, or maybe less.  It depends on the size of the scallops.  Take them out as soon as they get firm to touch. 

Place a bed of lentils on the plate and then put the scallops on top, and spoon over the cider reduction.

1 comment:

  1. I've never tried canned lentils----isn't the sodium count quite high with all canned products??? I'll have to look in to it.
    Sounds like a great recipe!