Now THIS was a fun dinner! I had some scallops in the freezer just waiting for an interesting recipe, and boy, did I find one. I was perusing my final issue of Bon Appetit (no more magazines – I’ve had enough of them!) and came across “Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with Lentils, Bacon, and Cider Reduction.” The recipe comes from the Blue Heron Restaurant in Massachusetts.

Surprisingly (or, not surprisingly, I guess…) I had everything I needed for the recipe in the house. (It helps to have a well-stocked pantry.) Anyway… Today was Victor’s last day at his old job (he starts a new one on Monday) so a bit of a gastronomic celebration was in order. And, I had all of the ingredients…

Lightly seared scallops on a bed of French lentils mixed with bacon, a sauce of apple cider drizzld over, and another sauce of cream and mascarpone cheese drizzled over that. Can we say absolutely fabulous, boys and girls?!?

While the recipe took 4 pots and pans, it was actually really easy to do. Mostly, it’s making reductions – and ya can’t get much easier than that. Thyme and a couple of bay leaves are the only seasonings, shallots the only thing that needs chopping… Super easy. And super good!

Every flavor stands out on its own, yet compliments everything else. And while the scallops were perfect in the dish, it could easily be made with just about anything, from chicken to pork loin to any fish or seafood imaginable.

This is one I shall definitely be making again.

Here’s the recipe direct from Bon Appetit:

PAN-SEARED SEA SCALLOPS WITH LENTILS, BACON, AND CIDER REDUCTION

Lentilles du Puy are lighter than other lentils and hold their shape especially well during cooking.

Mascarpone Cream

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh chives

Cider reduction

  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots

Lentils

  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 medium onion, peeled
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups French green lentils (lentilles du Puy; about 12 ounces)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 slices thick-cut applewood-smoked bacon, cut crosswise ÿ inch thick
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

Scallops

  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 18 sea scallops, patted dry
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For mascarpone cream:
Place wine and shallots in heavy small saucepan. Boil until almost dry, about 6 minutes. Add cream. Boil until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Stir in mascarpone, lemon peel, and chives. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Transfer to small bowl; cover and chill. Rewarm before serving.

For cider reduction:
Place cider, vinegar, and shallots in heavy medium saucepan. Boil until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 15 minutes. Strain; discard solids in strainer. Return cider mixture to pan. DO AHEAD: Cider reduction can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

For lentils: Press thin end of cloves into peeled onion. Place onion in heavy large saucepan. Add 6 cups water, lentils, and bay leaves. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in heavy large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels. Pour all but 3 tablespoons fat from skillet. Add shallots to skillet and sauté over medium heat until golden, about 2 minutes.

Drain lentils, discarding onion and bay leaves. Add reserved bacon, lentils, and thyme to shallots. DO AHEAD: Lentils can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm over medium heat, stirring often.

For scallops:
Bring cider reduction to simmer. Whisk in 5 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Keep warm.

Season scallops with salt and pepper. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallops and cook until brown, about 2 minutes per side.

Divide lentils among 6 plates. Arrange 3 scallops atop lentils on each plate. Drizzle cider reduction over scallops and around lentils. Drizzle warm mascarpone cream over.

Makes 6 servings.

Bon Appétit
September 2006
Deborah Snow
Blue Heron Restaurant

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