Staple Eats: Sautéed Scallops, Roasted Red Peppers, & Garlic and Porcini Mushroom Risotto

My foray into the cooking world essentially began during my junior year of college, where my roommate (and fellow blogger) Nick took the time out of his day to show me how to properly concoct an omelette. To this day, I’m fairly sure I learned how to make an omelette prior to ever scrambling eggs, but nonetheless, it was a step in the right direction.

Fast forward to 2012, the year in which my interest in cooking truly peaked. I began experimenting with a variety of different recipes in my downtime and eventually signed up for what I later coined my “first grown up cooking class” at the Ninety Acres Culinary Center. The theme of the class was aptly named “An Evening in Tuscany” and featured everything from a Tuscan Chicken with Lemon, Olivers, Capers & Rosemary to the very recipe I’ll be sharing with you today: Sautéed Scallops with Roasted Red Peppers & Garlic.

This scallops recipe has very much become a bi-weekly staple of my life. One of those recipes where the prep time outweighs the actual cook time, but the recipe itself couldn’t be any simpler. The addition of the bread crumbs to the recipe is a welcome touch and the scallops seem to cook perfectly almost every time I’ve whipped this one up. Best enjoyed with a white wine and a risotto side accompaniment (preferably the Porcini Mushroom Risotto recipe showcased below). While risottos generally take a while to cook and are fairly labor-intensive, the recipe below is well worth the hard yards.

All recipes courtesy of Ninety Acres Culinary School:

Sautéed Scallops, Roasted Peppers, & Garlic 
Serves 8 as an antipasti

Ingredients: 
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. finely minced garlic
1 pound sea scallops, rinsed, dried, and cut into quarters
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. minced parsley
2 tbsp. rinsed minced capers
1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
3 tbsp. fine dry unflavored bread crumbs

Place olive oil and garlic in a sauté pan, turn heat to medium. Cook and stir until garlic is colored a pale god.

Put in Scallops, season with salt and pepper and turn the heat up. Cook at a brisk pace, stirring frequently, for a few seconds, until they lose their shiny raw color. Turn off the heat.

Adjust oven rack to top shelf. Preheat the broiler.

Add parsley, capers, peppers, and 1 tablespoon of bread crumbs to the scallops and mix well. Distribute the contents of the pan into a gratin dish or leave in the sauté pan. Sprinkle with the remaining bread crumbs.

Place a dish or pan under the preheated broiler for one minute to form a light brown crust over the scallops. Serve promptly.

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Ninety Acres Culinary Center at Natirar, Peapack, NJ

Porcini Mushroom Risotto 
Serves 6

Ingredients:
5 cups homemade meat broth (50% chicken, 50% beef)
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. canola oil
2 tbsp. chopped white onion
2 cups arborio rice or other imported Italian rice (Vialone Nano is a good one)
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms reconstituted in 1 cup warm water, water filtered with a strainer and reserved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, and any additional to be passed at the table
white wine, optional

Bring broth to a simmer in a saucepan with a ladle.

Place 1 tablespoon of butter, canola oil and chopped onion into a broad heavy pot. Turn heat to medium high and cook onions until translucent (add a bit of wine after the onion cooks and before the broth in the next step). Add rice and stir to coat the grains.

Add 1/2 cup of hot broth and cook rice stirring constantly with a long wooden spoon. Wipe sides and bottom of the pot until liquid is gone. Add broth until it evaporates.

Add another 1/2-3/4 cups of broth, stirring and keeping the heat at a lively simmer (al dente in the center, creamy on the outside).

After rice has cooked for 10 minutes, add reconstituted mushrooms and 1/2 cup of their filtered liquid. Continue stirring and add mushroom liquid as it evaporates until you have used it all up. After 20 minutes of cooking, test rice for doneness. It’s done when it is tender but firm to the bite.

Finish cooking rice with remaining broth. Take the pot off the heat and add remaining butter and some fresh black pepper. Stir in grated cheese. Taste to see if the rice still needs salt. Serve promptly with grated cheese on the side.

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Full plate: Sautéed Scallops, Roasted Red Peppers & Garlic, side of Porcini Mushroom Risotto

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