Sunday, 15 February 2015

Seared Scallop and Asparagus Benedict

Hmmm... would we call this benedict? There is no poached egg, english muffin or pork involved, but the architecture and egg yolk butter sauce is enough for me to confidently deem this recipe a benedict. This is certainly not a go-to weekend recipe, it is probably the fanciest brunch I've ever made at home. But hey - we had leftover scallops in the freezer from when I made the Beet Risotto, our oven isn't working so Coquilles St Jacques was out, and it was Valentine's Day!

I chose to use potato pancakes for the base - I didn't have english muffins and in the end I liked the way the softer potato pancake didn't compete with the tender scallops the way a chewy english muffin may have. I'm not proud, but I used a mix instead of making the potato pancakes from scratch. Sacrilege, I know, but shredding potatoes is a bit labour intensive for Saturday morning when you also are going to be poaching asparagus, making Bernaise from scratch and searing scallops. Plus, I had the mix in the cupboard and quite frankly it just tastes so amazing. 

Bernaise is even better then Hollandaise in my opinion - and I knew it would work here with the Scallops. I followed this recipe pretty closely for the sauce but realized at the last minute that I didn't have dried tarragon, so I happily substituted the tarragon vinegar that I use once every five years in the back of the cupboard. One warning on this one: I don't normally prep my ingredients ahead of time - I like to live on the edge like that ... but as you know if you've made Eggs Benedict before, the last 5 minutes of cooking are hectic. Be prepared! I cooked the pancakes first because they are the easiest to keep warm, while also cooking asparagus, then the scallops and Bernaise last.

Seared Scallop and Asparagus Benedict
Serves 2

potato pancake mix
eggs and water, as required by mix
vegetable oil

1/4 cup butter
2 fresh egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons whipping/heavy cream
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon tarragon vinegar (or regular vinegar and 1 teaspoon dried tarragon)
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon freshly chopped italian parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of dry mustard (if you have it)

1 bunch fresh asparagus
1 tablespoon butter

12 scallops, thawed overnight in paper towel between two plates
salt and pepper
olive oil

Remove scallops from fridge. Mix up potato pancake batter according to package directions, set aside to rest (usually needs about 10 minutes).

Prep the Bernaise sauce by putting butter in a medium glass bowl. In a separate bowl beat egg yolks, mix in the cream, shallot, vinegar, lemon juice, parsley, salt and dried mustard. Set both bowls aside.

Fry the potato pancakes according to package directions - or if like in my case, there were no directions: heat vegetable oil to coat a large frying pan on medium until shimmering. Ladle a good size scoop of batter into pan and spread into a oval, cooking two or three pancakes per batch. Cook until crispy and brown (about 4 mins) before flipping to cook other side. Keep warm in oven or over an element covered with foil. Cook remaining batter (I ended up with 6 large pancakes).

While frying the pancakes - cook the asparagus. In a large skillet heat an inch of salted water to boiling. Cut off a good portion of the woody asparagus stem and plunge into boiling water, arranging in one layer. Boil for about 5 minutes until tender. Remove from water with tongs and keep warm in oven or in a frying pan with a tablespoon butter on low heat (as I did because of the lack of oven). 

This is likely when you'll start to feel a bit out of control.

Prepare scallops. Coat a skillet with olive oil and heat on medium-high until almost smoking. Pat scallops dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Place scallops in hot pan using tongs, don't crowd them. Cook about 3 minutes until the brown sear starts to creep up the side, flip each scallop and cook an additional 2-3 minutes until sides are opaque. 

You might want someone to help you assemble at this point, because once the scallops are ready you want to be able to remove them from the pan quickly. Place two potato pancakes on each plate, top with asparagus spears, then about 3 scallops per pancake. The Bernaise is quick: heat the bowl with  the butter in microwave until butter melts, about 30-45 seconds, you don't want it to be super hot. Into the melted butter, slowly pour in while whisking, the contents of other bowl (cream, yolks etc). Cook in microwave in 20 seconds increments, whisking between to remove lumps, until thickened (about 60 seconds total). Spoon sauce over scallops, and prepare to consume the most decadent brunch ever.

I served this with a little blackberry and blood orange salad. A tip for fancy brunches - peel the orange or grapefruit with a knife and cut each segment away from the pith - who wants to waste time with the nutrient packed pith on Valentines Day. Squeeze all the juices from whats left. 

Enjoy the accolades and consider eating a salad for dinner, if anything. 

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