Monday, September 21, 2009

Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with Lemon Thyme Basil Sauce (beurre nantais)

I've been on a quest to introduce a wider variety of foods to my picky children. If they had their way, they'd eat nothing but ramen noodles, mac and cheese and pizza.

Enter Gordon Ramsay and Hell's Kitchen.


Yes. My kids and I are Hell's Kitchen junkies.

They get the hugest kick out of the fact that every other word out of Ramsay's mouth has to be bleeped out ("Mommy! I think he swears more than you do!") and also because he is prone to throwing some pretty spectacular temper tantrums in the kitchen ("Look, kids! Someone who pitches a bigger fit than you guys do!") whilst chewing out the horde of wannabe executive chefs.

As for me, well I'm just here for the food: lobster spaghetti, mushroom risotto, lamb wellington, and the ubiquitous pan-seared sea scallops? Oh yeah. Sign me up.

The kids both have been showing more of a interest in real food (ie, things which actually require real cooking as opposed to "just add water"), so I hit on a little bit of brilliance. I told them that each week we could try out a new recipe featuring one of the foods from Hell's Kitchen. Now obviously I can't go all-out and toss in truffle oil, seared foie gras or grated black truffles because a) there's not a chance in Hell that they'll touch it and 2) JHC, have you seen the price of truffles?!

So, some adaptation is in order, and that's what gives me a charge: how to make some real food that the kids will actually eat.

I picked up a pound of sea scallops, which I thought would taste great pan-seared and served with a lemon thyme basil sauce. The girls will have them over pasta, and I, bound by the strict rules of the South Beach Diet, will have them alongside a lovely green salad.

Natalie and Lucy both said that I have to go on Hell's Kitchen and cook this dish. They cracked me up with their Chef Ramsay impressions: "Those scallops were cooked perfectly, Madam!"

Natalie had about 6 of the scallops with the sauce, so Project Develop Kids' Palate is going swimmingly.

I was going to take a nice picture of the dish, but the kids were at the table already and getting restless, and you know that whenever the inmates start chanting and banging cutlery on the table in movies, it's never good.

Next time, for sure.

Pan-seared Sea Scallops with Lemon Thyme Basil Sauce (beurre nantais)

  • 1 lb sea scallops
  • 3/4 cup cup dry white wine
  • 2 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 3 T chopped onions*
  • 2 T heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil


For the sauce:

  1. Boil the wine, chopped onion, and lemon juice, in a heavy medium saucepan over high heat until mixture is significantly reduced (2 tablespoons) stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes.
  2. Add the thyme and basil about halfway, so 6 minutes in.
  3. Reduce heat to low and add the cream, whisking well.
  4. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of butter 1 piece at a time over low heat, then raise heat and whisk in the rest of the butter. Serve immediately or keep warm until ready, but it won't last long.

For the scallops:
  1. Season the scallops on both sides with salt and white pepper.
  2. Heat olive oil to medium high in a large skillet, add the scallops and cook until golden on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.
  3. Serve the scallops immediately over pasta or fresh greens, spooning the sauce liberally over the top.

* The recipe called for shallots originally, but somehow the shallots never made it to my grocery bag, although they did make it onto the receipt. :/ Anyhow, I used a small amount of finely minced onion instead.

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