drunken scallops

“Did you hear what happened to secret menu??”
“I heard that she got adopted by a family of dandies in Brazzaville, and won’t leave the house without spats!”
“Really? I heard that she chained herself to a tree in the Amazon because she thought it looked like an enormous pendant!!”
“I heard something completely different: that she’s actually an escaped convict, and the police finally caught up with her while she was shopping for radishes at the Silver Lake farmer’s market.”
“You’re all wrong! I happen to know that she’s been holed up in her house, slogging through paperwork and going to bed at 9:30.”
“No way!!! That’s so anticlimactic!”

Pan-seared Scallops and Leeks Braised in White Wine
(serves two)

-four large scallops, rinsed and dried thoroughly
-3 large leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced lengthwise (try to keep as much of the root intact as possible, since it will keep the layers together during sautéing)
-1/2 cup dry white wine
-1/2 cup vegetable broth
-1 shallot, diced
-a few (maybe 3 or 4) sprigs of thyme
-2 tbs olive oil
-3 tbs butter
-salt and pepper

In a large, deep pan with a lid, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat, and stir in your olive oil. Place the leeks, cut-side down, in the pan and sauté until browned (about 3 or 4 minutes). Flip over and sauté the other side, as well (about 3 minutes). Be careful while flipping, since the outer layer of each leek has a way of trying to sneak off and make out with your teenage daughter while you’re not looking. Keep those homeboys together! Now pour in your white wine and let it bubble until it’s reduced by half, which should only take a couple of minutes. Add 1/4 cup of your broth and reduce the heat to low. If your broth isn’t low-sodium, you probably won’t need to add salt, but if it is you’ll want to add a healthy pinch of it along with a twist or two of freshly ground pepper. You’re going to braise the leeks for about 10 minutes, so that’s bought you some time to prep your scallops.

Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat in a small nonstick pan. I like to use salted butter because it tastes amazing and I don’t even know what blood pressure is; also, I like to keep the seasoning on the scallops pretty simple, and salted butter is a gorgeous two-in-one. Anyway, when the butter is piping hot, add your scallops in a single layer. Sauté until very brown, about 3 minutes. Flip over and sauté the other sides until they’re the same deep brown color. Boom, you’re done. Transfer those babies to a plate and attend to your leeks.

It’s been about 10 minutes, and your leeks are righteously braised. Put them in rows of three on two plates, top with the scallops, but be sure to reserve plenty of liquid in the pan they were in because you still need to make your sauce. With the heat still on low, add your shallot, your thyme sprigs, and the remaining broth. Let it all cook together into a glorious, thick gravy which requires close to zero effort on your part (you can gaze at it lovingly and poke it with a spatula from time to time if you want, but you’re sort of the third wheel in the food/heat fandango here — just try to enjoy it). This will take something like 3 or 4 minutes, AKA As Long As You Can Stand It. Oh boy. Get the sauce on your scallops and go nuts. You just made an appetizer, like it was no big thing! I’m thoroughly impressed.


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