"In 1994, when I enrolled at the Culinary Institute oh America in Hyde Park, I had to catch up on so much—it was like I had a virgin palate for food and wine," says Rajat Parr. "For instance, I'd never had a scallop before; I didn't even know what they were. I had never seen a chestnut before, either. So cooking school was an eye-opening experience."
Plus: F&W's Fish and Seafood Cooking GuideMore Seafood Recipes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 thick slice of bacon (1 ounce), finely diced
1 leek, white and pale green parts only, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons Cognac
1 1/4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 cup vacuum-packed chestnuts
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 large sea scallops (about 1 pound)
8 sage leaves
How to Make It
In a saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat until the fat has been rendered, about 4 minutes. Add the leek and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the Cognac and carefully ignite it. When the flames subside, add the chicken stock and chestnuts and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat for 3 minutes. Transfer to a blender and puree. Return the chestnut sauce to the saucepan and season with salt and pepper.
In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil. Season the scallops with salt and pepper. Add the sage leaves to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until crisp, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sage to a plate.
Add the scallops to the skillet and cook over high heat until starting to brown, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to moderately high and cook the scallops until they're well glazed, about 1 minute. Turn the scallops and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter to the skillet. Continue cooking the scallops, basting with the butter, until browned and just cooked through, about 2 minutes longer.
Reheat the chestnut sauce and pour it into shallow bowls. Arrange the scallops in the chestnut sauce and garnish with the fried sage leaves. Serve right away.
Parr discovered the terrific Chenin Blancs of Loire during a seminal wine class at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and loves to serve them with these caramelized scallops in a smoky, bacon-infused chestnut sauce.
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