November really kicks off the dinner party season in the lead up to Christmas. A chance to impress a small select dinner party before we all start talking turkey and the guest list balloons into a small army.
For these small dinner parties, you want appetizers that wow the guests and diver scallops will do just that and November and December they are at their best.
Scallops, when bought in the shell are so much better than other versions (like frozen or in brine). Often these types contain a lot of water which comes out during the cooking, so instead of frying then, you end up stewing them (not to mention they shrink to about 1/2 their size Scallops should never be fully cooked, or they will become rubbery. You should ask for diver scallops which are caught individually.
4 medium King diver scallops
400 grams spring greens
15 grams fresh coriander, chopped
12 large seedless green grapes, cut in half
4 rashers of smoked bacon
1 dessertspoon olive oil
Beurre Blanc (butter sauce)
50 grams finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
100 ml dry white wine
200 grams unsalted butter diced
50 ml chicken stock
2 tablespoons double or whipping cream *
- Roll the bacon rashers widthwise into tight cylinders and secure with a metal skewer.
- Cook the bacon rolls in a preheated oven 190 C gas mark 5 until cooked, drain on paper towels.
- Open the Scallops at the hinge end using a sharp knife, then scrape off the beard like fringe & black thread. Free the scallops from the shell, then refrigerate until ready to cook.
- Break down the spring greens into leaves then blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes, then cool quickly under cold running water.
- Drain the greens well and when cold remove any storks and roughly chop the greens.
- Begin your Beurre blanc by putting the wine, vinegar, shallots and stock into a heavy-based stainless steel saucepan.
- Reduce down until you have about one tablespoon left. Now add the chicken stock and again reduce until you have about 2 tablespoons.
- Turn the heat down and add the cream and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.
- Gradually whisk in the butter pieces, a little at a time then season with salt & pepper and turn off the heat.
- Heat up a nonstick frying pan and pour in a dessert spoon of olive oil.
- Cook the scallops until golden brown on both sides. While they are cooking wash and dry the bottom deep part of the shell.
- Cut the bacon rolls into thin “pinwheel” pieces and warm in the Beurre blanc, together with the grapes and teaspoon of chopped coriander.
- Heat the greens in a steamer tray and divide between the 4 warm plates.
- Place the scallops back into the shells, sauce and serve.
*The cream is there to stabilize the Beurre blanc (because it can split if it gets too hot) and can be omitted if you like. Adding the chicken stock is not something you will not see in most beurre blanc recipes but it makes the flavour less opaque as an alternative you could add fish stock but most homes are unlikely to have that on hand.
Spring greens are a type of spring cabbage that you may not find outside the UK, but you could substitute with turnip greens or collard greens.