Nothing gets me going quite like warm shellfish piled atop cornmeal mush. (…is an example about how to not write about food).
But seriously. There’s something about the combination of shellfish combined with cornmeal. Shrimp and grits anyone? I responded to the call with this gem- brown butter scallops with polenta.
Have you ever cooked with scallops before? Hey! Me neither! (what??? you say) I know right?! I have pinned like 10,000 pictures of perfectly seared scallops on pinterest, but for some reason actually making these recipes kept alluding me. Mostly it’s a slightly pricier impulse buy than I’ve been willing to commit to when I am at the store to acquire spaghetti sauce, and I happen to spy these translucent little nuggets staring up at me from the seafood counter. Next time guys… I promise in my head. (Except that today was the first day…)
BUT! Will not be the last. So basically the deal with scallops is that you want to be really careful to make sure you’re getting high quality scallops. Through my brand loyalty and blind faith in Trader Joes I feel I made an excellent selection buying their frozen scallops. Would buy again, for sure…
I have since
heard read on the internet that not everyone is as lucky as I in their first trial run of making scallops. What I’m talking about is inadvertently purchasing wet scallops. Wet scallops = treated with phosphate preservatives. Phosphates = water retention. Water retention = you will never get good sear marks on your seafood. (And not to mention that you’re paying for water weight.)
And that water will come right out of your scallops when you’re cooking and you’ll end up steaming your scallops instead of getting gorgeous golden brown sear marks.
SO! DO purchase dry scallops. DO NOT purchase wet scallops.
It’s as easy as that! 🙂
So this dish requires 2 components to be texturally on point. The scallops need to be seared to a golden crisp without overcooking the innards. And the polenta. Ohhh you perfectly gooey, creamy, nutty, italian porridge you.
Polenta can be purchased in the regular variety and the instant variety. This recipe calls for regular, and please don’t substitute instant as it won’t work properly for this recipe. Also I’ve found that instant polenta just never tastes quite as good and can be a little glue-y. I definitely think it’s worth the extra effort to make your own slow-cooked polenta from scratch. And no need to add any milk/cream to your polenta- it’ll be perfect without, I promise!This recipe is a simple gourmet meal that tastes a heck of a lot more complex than it takes to bring together. The cook time is basically the length of time it takes to make your polenta (hint- 55 minutes); the scallops come together in 6 minutes, which you can prepare just before your polenta finishes. Top the polenta with the seared scallops, and add a healthy spoonful of browned butter with a hit of lemon, and you have the perfect impress-your-guests meal!Cheers to weeknight Italian!
Brown Butter Scallops with Polenta
To prepare polenta:
To prepare scallops and sauce: