This was a dish we served at the American Comfort Food Pop-up I did with Cheese1227 and it received such rave reviews, I’m really proud of it. Someone who is a retired food writer, and has eaten more dishes than I have dreamed about said it was one of the best scallop dishes they ever had. ( I kvelled oh how I kvelled).
I spent a lot of time thinking about it, often I just get in the kitchen and make something, and if its good so I try to write down what I did.
I wanted to create a dish that would be reminiscent of scallops wrapped in bacon without being scallops wrapped in bacon—I also wanted to incorporate dates because dates wrapped in bacon are also delicious. We called it Angels & Devils on Horseback.
This took a good month of thinking and drawing and mentally tasting combinations, and reading the Flavor Bible, and reading recipes. And finally I had it—and I had a bit of a breakdown when I thought it wasn’t good enough, but then when someone who doesn’t like scallops licked the plate I knew I had it. It’s a lot more “cheffy” than a lot of my cooking, it has lots of tiny bits, and probably would benefit from tweezer plating—but I won’t cross that line.
You will have left over date puree & vinaigrette – spread date puree on a piece of toast, cover with soft goat cheese & top with butter greens tossed in left over vin, or spread date puree on chicken or lamb and grill serve with salad of apple & green tossed in vinaigrette). I use a variation of another date recipe that I posted on Food52 a few years ago--- if you want to you could make a batch of that and have some for dessert and use a few to make the date puree here.
6 or 2
spicy fruity red wine
green cardamon pods, cracked
black peppercorns (whole)
juniper berries (crushed)
Bacon vinaigrette, scallops & garnishes
smoky slab bacon- cut in thick lardons
verjus ( could prob substitute a good white wine vinegar—by the I learned from this that you have to keep verjus in the fridge its wicked pricey and it will mold if not properly kept- this discovery made me very very sad)
reserved bacon fat (you can supplement with neutral oil or any other fat you have)
DRY Maine Sea Scallops
tart apple- cut in matchsticks
salt & pepper
In This Recipe
Toast Juniper berries, cardamom & peppercorns in a small sauce pan until fragrant,
Add wine- bring to a simmer,
drop in dates & thyme sprig, poached about 30 minute over low heat. Remove from heat left sit until cool (can be done ahead of time 2-3 days even)
Remove dates from wine- remove pits & rough chop
Strain wine - discard spices (or let them dry and grind them up to make wine spiced salt)
Blend wine & dates together to form a thick paste taste & season w salt & pepper - set aside ( you can do this a few days ahead)
Render bacon with neutral oil until crispy- strain out fat and reserve
Add minced shallots to pan and deglaze with a bit of the verjus- scrape in to a blender or food processor (*I used a stick blender and a quart container)
Add thyme leaves & verjus to shallots—slowly pour in bacon fat until emulsified—taste & season – add a squeeze of lemon juice if it needs to be brighter – you’ll know
Take about 1/4 cup of vinaigrette and marinate shallots at least 15 minutes but can be 1 day
Grind coriander seeds & juniper berries—mix in to some good flaky grainy salt
You can do all of this ahead of time as well—in fact you should
Remove the tough bit on the side of your scallops and pat dry on all sides
Get a dry pan or griddle searingly blindingly hot
Place Scallops season side down on pan DO NOT CROWD THEM—do it in batches if the pan is small – it’s okay they will hold some heat
Season the side facing up
Give it no more than 3 minutes to form a good crust then flip, after another 2 minutes place on a clean kitchen towel or paper towel
Put 1 tablespoon of date puree on the plate—if you want to be fancy take your pastry brush and brush it across the plate—
Scatter 1/6th of the lardons on the plate
Top scallops with sliced shallots & green apple
Squirt (or spoon) vinaigrette over top – you can garnish with some fresh thyme if you wish.