Today: Trade in a heavy and dense winter meal for a lighter, but still satisfying option of scallops and creamed kale.
Winter meals don't always need to be dense and heavy to warm you up. It's possible for them to be juicy and full of rich and comforting flavors, like miso and soy, and still feel light. Tom Colicchio's Pan-Roasted Sea Scallops with Scallop Jus are cooked with a handful of hearty winter vegetables and simmered in chicken stock, peanut oil, white wine, and butter until golden brown. On the side, serve Trent Pierce's Miso-Creamed Kale: A rich take on our favorite superfood of the season (creamed, not cold) that perfectly complements the scallops to pack a flavorful punch.
Here's how to make it:
Begin with the scallops: Remove the tough muscle at the side of each scallop. Reserve the muscles and set the scallops aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, then add the onion, fennel, and celery. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender but not browned, about 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the scallop muscles and cook until they are firm, roughly 2 to 3 minutes, then remove and set aside. Add the wine to the pan and simmer until the pan is almost dry, about 7 minutes. Add the stock and the herbs. Simmer until the stock has reduced by half. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve, then return it to the pan. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat, whisk in 1 tablespoon of the butter, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and keep warm over very low heat.
Start on the kale: Place 2 tablespoons of butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. When melted, add the shallot and garlic. Cook over low heat without letting the garlic and shallots color, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the kale and continue to cook for a few more minutes until wilted. If it won't all fit in the pan, just add what's left after it's cooked down a bit. Meanwhile, in a small pan set over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter, then add the mushrooms and cook until softened and cooked through, about 5 minutes. If the mushrooms become too dry, add another tablespoon of butter. Stir in 1 tablespoon soy sauce, cook for another minute, then turn off the heat.
Return to the scallops and dry them with paper towels. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the peanut oil. Season the scallops with salt and pepper and add them to the skillet (work in batches if cooking all the scallops at once crowds the pan). Cook the scallops without moving them until they are golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes, then flip them and add 2 tablespoons of butter and the thyme. Baste the scallops with the foaming butter and cook until they are firm outside but just barely warm at the center, about 30 seconds more. Serve the scallops with a drizzle of the jus.
Finally, finish cooking the kale: Once it is wilted and soft, increase the heat to medium high, add the vermouth, and cook until it’s just evaporated, about 1 minute. Add the cream and miso, stirring until completely incorporated. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 2 more minutes until the sauce reduces slightly and tightens up the around the kale. Taste for seasoning add salt and pepper if you like (but don’t forget the mushrooms have soy sauce). Place the kale on a warm platter and scatter the mushrooms over the top. Serve immediately with the scallops.
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Serves 4, with leftover scallops
2 1/2 pounds large scallops
1 small white onion, peeled and chopped
1 small fennel bulb, cored and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 sprig fresh tarragon, 1 sprig fresh thyme, and 1 fresh bay leaf, tied in a cheesecloth
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 large shallot
1 bunch lacinato kale, stems removed, roughly chopped
1/2 cup shimeji mushrooms with stems, or shiitake mushroom tops
1/4 cup dry vermouth
1 tablespoon (shiro) miso
We are assuming you already have olive oil, kosher salt, ground black pepper, unsalted butter, garlic, soy sauce, and heavy cream. If not, be sure to add that to your list, too.
Photos by James Ransom