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Scallops, Polenta and Tomato-Citrus Vinaigrette

Isla in Wonder

Your sense of wonder is so strong when you are so tiny. You gaze at the one holding you with such innocence in your eyes and smile with pure joy.

I wonder what it’s like to be such an empty slate. I know I was once, not so long ago, also in such a state, but my first memories consist of my older sister bouncing me by my head while I stood precariously in a doorway, mounted to a Jumperoo. Not the picture of innocence right?

When I look at my daughter I wonder what she thinks. What goes through her mind when I stare at her and am rewarded with coos and giggles? They are learning so much, so fast and in such short a span of time. It must be exciting and overwhelming and somewhat….tiring, I imagine. Which would explain the 10 hours of sleep I am so blissfully receiving each night. What once I thought the stuff of legends, myths and lying mothers trying to impress (zing!) actually does occur.

No matter the stuff going on behind the scenes, what I see before me every morning, afternoon and evening is a sight I will not tire of anytime soon. I could stare at this face all day.

I could also eat this meal every day and not tire anytime soon. A quickly seared batch of fresh scallops laying on a pillowy pile of creamy polenta and drizzled in a flavourful tomato-citrus vinaigrette. What could be a better introduction to autumn and a farewell to summer?

If you can’t find duck fat and don’t feel like rendering it yourself, try using just butter. You can’t go wrong with butter.

Duck Fat Seared Scallops Baked over Thyme Salt
served over Creamy Polenta with a Tomato-Citrus Vinaigrette

Yield: Two Servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes

For the Tomato-Citrus Vinaigrette:

3 large Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1/4 tsp thyme salt (recipe follows)
2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice and zest of half a lemon (get the zest first!)

1. In the bowl of a food processor, add all of the ingredients.
2. Blend in pulses until well blended. Then whiz on high for a minute to smooth it all out.
3. Set aside until needed.

For the Polenta:

3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3/4 cup whole grain cornmeal
2 tbsp butter
1/2-3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Kosher salt to taste
Fresh cracked pepper to taste

1. In a large, heavy bottomed pot, bring the stock to a rolling boil.
2. While whisking, gently pour the cornmeal into the pot and lower the temperature to medium.
3. Continue to whisk until it returns to a boil, then lower to a simmer for the next 45 minutes. Continue to stir every few minutes.
4. After 45 minutes, add butter, Parmesan and salt and pepper and remove from heat. Cover and keep warm until needed.

For the Scallops:

12 fresh large scallops
1/4 cup rendered duck fat
1/4 cup thyme salt (recipe follows)

1. Dry scallops with kitchen or paper towels. Preheat oven to 275°F.
2. On a small cast iron pan or another baking tray, lay your thyme infused salt (including thyme bits). Set aside.
3. In a large heavy bottomed sauté pan (such as cast iron), heat the duck fat until it is bubbling and popping slightly. Very hot!
4. Place scallops into duck fat and sear for 2-3 minutes on one side only. Scallops are done when there is a golden sear on the one side. Remove to salt bed and place seared side up.
5. Bake in oven for 5 minutes to finish cooking.
6. Meanwhile, set up your plate: Place a bed of polenta in center, when scallops are done, lay them next to the polenta and drizzle the tomato-citrus vinaigrette over the whole thing. Serve immediately.

For the Thyme Salt:

1/3 cup coarse sea salt
1/4 cup fresh thyme sprigs.

1. Mix ingredients together and allow to stand in refrigerator overnight.

Similarly delicious recipes from other blogs:

Baked Scallops on Simply Recipes
Baked Scallops with Creamy Spicy Sauce on Rasa malaysia
Pan-Seared Scallops on Use Real Butter
Seared Scallops with Chimichurri Dressing on Cookin’ Canuck
Sun Gold Tomatoes with Tarragon, Seared Scallops and Brown Butter on White On Rice Couple

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