Weeknight Cooking

Foil-Packet Scallops With Caper-Raisin Butter

February 19, 2019
Photo by Bobbi Lin
Author Notes

Over the years, my "TV dinners" have evolved and gained new meaning as I've grown more comfortable in the kitchen. Now they're simple, nutritious, premade dinners that are waiting for me in the freezer or fridge: say, a sheet-pan of spiced chicken thighs, a breaded and ready-to-fry cube steak, or a foil packet of sweet, plump scallops and rainbow chard. Premade means something different for everyone; for me, it means doing 90% of the work in advance, and leaving 10% (the cooking) to the very end. Not that the 90% here is very hard. You're just filling a large sheet of aluminum foil with a protein and a vegetable (in this case, the scallops and chard), sealing it, and saving it in the fridge to be baked off later in the week when you need a 15-minute meal in a flash.

The true star here is the caper-raisin butter that runs through the entire foil packet. I first read about this golden elixir in Tacos: Recipes and Provocations by Alex Stupack and Jordana Rothman, who got it from Jean-Georges Vongerichten. "This scallop preparation helped make JGV's flagship restaurant a sensation when it opened in 1997," they write in the recipe's headnote. I thought it was the strangest combination of ingredients and had to try it for myself. Now I keep a jar of the stuff in my fridge most weeks of the year. It tastes great with pasta, roasted cauliflower, raw bitter vegetables, and of course, scallops. —Eric Kim

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: Foil-Packet Scallops Are the Perfect TV Dinner for One. —The Editors

  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 1
  • Foil-packet scallops
  • 3 cups rainbow chard, rolled like a cigar and cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 ounces scallops (usually about 4 fat ones)
  • 1 tablespoon caper-raisin butter, recipe follows
  • White rice, for serving (optional)
  • Caper-raisin butter
  • 2 tablespoons non-pareil capers
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon malt vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In This Recipe
  1. Foil-packet scallops
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  3. Place rainbow chard in the center of a large rectangular sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle over olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  4. Top the chard with scallops. Smear the caper-raisin butter over each scallop, then season with more salt and pepper.
  5. Fold over each side of the aluminum foil until you have an enclosed square packet. Place on a sheet pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the scallops are just cooked through.
  6. Serve with optional white rice and an ice-cold beer.
  1. Caper-raisin butter
  2. Boil the capers, raisins, and water together for about 10 minutes, until the raisins have plumped up and water has reduced significantly.
  3. Puree in a food processor with the butter, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Store in a jar or container with a tightly fitted lid, refrigerated, for up to a week. Tastes great with scallops, pasta, roasted cauliflower, and raw bitter vegetables.

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Eric Kim is a senior editor at Food52, where his solo dining column, Table for One, runs Friday mornings. Formerly the managing editor at Food Network and a PhD candidate in literature at Columbia University, he writes about food, travel, and culture and lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho.