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Scallops with Chorizo Ragu

Scallops with Chorizo Ragu

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Serves 4 to 6.
By Dennis W. Viau; modified from a recipe published in a restaurant trade journal.

Scallops are expensive (if you buy the good fresh ones), but they are delicious. The chorizo ragù is spicy and hot. The sauce is so delicious I can envision it being used in many dishes. I made an herb polenta for this dish, from the same magazine.

Ingredients:

For the Ragu:
6 ounces (170g) chorizo, either beef or pork
½ large yellow or red onion; diced
1 stalk celery; diced
¼ cup (60ml) bourbon
¼ cup (60ml) dry sherry
1 garlic clove; minced
1 cup (240ml) chicken stock
¼ cup (60ml) marinara tomato sauce
For the Polenta:
2 cups (475ml) chicken stock
½ teaspoon mixed herbs such as Herbs de Provence
½ cup (75g) corn meal, either yellow or white
Salt and pepper to taste
For the Scallops:
1 pound (454g) fresh sea scallops, dry packed (see below)
Salt and pepper to season
1 tablespoon oil (peanut oil, corn oil, or safflower oil)
1 tablespoon clarified butter

Directions:

To make the ragu: Remove the chorizo from its plastic casing. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high flame and sauté the chorizo 2 minutes. Add the diced onion, celery, garlic, and pepper. Cook about 3 minutes. Add bourbon and sherry. Reduce until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the chicken stock and reduce to about 1/3 its volume. Add the marinara and cook about 3 minutes. Adjust for salt, cover, and set aside.

To make the polenta: Heat the stock in a large saucepan until boiling and then stir in the corn meal and the herbs. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook 10 to 15 minutes to desired consistency. Adjust for salt and pepper. Cover and set aside.

To sear scallops: Dry the scallops with paper towels and season lightly with salt and pepper. Heat a large and heavy skillet over high flame. Add the oil and butter and heat just until you see the oil begin to smoke. The oil should be very hot. Carefully place the scallops, flat sides down, in the oil and do not move for at least 2 minutes. Check for browning. They should lightly brown. Turn the scallops over and sear the other side. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until barely cooked through. Do not overcook the scallops or they will become rubbery.

Spoon polenta onto plates. Add 2 or 3 scallops on top and then garnish with chorizo ragù. Serve hot.

Dry Packed Scallops:

The scallops you often see in the fish case at the grocery store are typically treated with a sodium tripolyphosphate solution that gives them a longer shelf life. The solution makes the scallops hold more liquid (which makes them weigh more so that they sell for more). These are usually called wet-pack scallops. When you try to sear them the liquid oozes out and, at best, you can only steam them. Dry-pack scallops are not treated. They sear more easily. Reliable fish stores usually sell fresh dry-pack scallops, but they are expensive.

Addendum:

I experimented with the"Kirkland Signature" frozen scallops sold at Costco. They were excellent. Quick-frozen at harvest, there is no need for a chemical treatment to help them stay fresh. The flavor was good. Costing less than half the price of the scallops sold at the seafood market, these Costco scallops are now my first choice (and the store is within walking distance — an added convenience).