I’d like to call bullshit on this recipe. It calls for a sachet to be filled with several things, including two juniper berries and 1/2 bay leaf for a sauce where heady peaches dominate anyway. Did someone test the sauce with 1/4 bay leaf or a whole bay leaf before landing on a half? Do you know how tiny juniper berries are? I’d like to know how we got here.
But Danny sees a recipe and decides he wants to make it that instant. Even if we’re not really hungry yet. Mazzaro in St. Pete had lardo (pork backfat) when he called, but it was sold out an hour later. The butchers gave him the next best thing, pig jowl.
Have I lost you yet? I hesitated before posting this recipe because I’d like most of what ends up on a little saffron to be somewhat more accessible. But this was a challenge, which I hope many of you are up for, and most importantly, it was delicious. So maybe I have to take back what I said. There are quite a few steps and ingredients, but there’s a significant difference between a recipe that is time consuming and one that is difficult.
This, seared scallops with peaches and lardo, you can do. The sauce is slightly sweet and the thin slice of pig jowl adds a touch of saltiness. Thin Lardo would more easily melt away into the scallop.
Learning how to sear scallops correctly is important. If you don’t have too much experience cooking them, start with the big old sea scallops, which take a couple more minutes to cook and are more forgiving than those sweet little bay scallops.
Make sure your scallops are dry, patting them down with a paper towel if necessary. Season scallops with salt and pepper. Bring a large nonstick pan to medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and let it heat up until it shimmers in the pan. Place the scallops in the pan, making sure not to overcrowd them. A few big ones at a time is enough. For these big wild scallops, let them cook on the first side for 3 to 4 minutes. Don’t touch them! The scallops need to not be bothered for a few minutes to get that nice brown crust. Flip them and add butter. Use a small spoon to baste them with butter to really get a nice sear on the scallops from the combination of oil and butter. Take them off the pan and serve, draining first if you don’t want them as oily.
seared scallops with peaches and lardo
for the peaches:
2 peaches (or plums), pitted, peeled, and quartered
2 ounces simple syrup
1 ounce orange juice
for the sachet (what exactly is a sachet anyway? do I pronounce the t? fyi, a tea ball worked very well)
1/4 teaspoon toasted coriander seeds
2 dried juniper berries
1/8 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 bay leaf (what the hell?)
1/8 teaspoon whole toasted cardamom seeds (didn’t have it, didn’t use it)
1 tablespoon fresh mint
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 of the biggest wild sea scallops you can find
1 tablespoon butter
lardo (or pig jowl), frozen overnight
Simmer peaches, simple syrup, orange juice, and sachet of spices in a medium saucepan until the liquid reduces and the fruit softens, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove sachet and drain it into the pan. Continue to cook sauce at medium to medium-low heat and cook until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Puree sauce in a blender to smooth it out. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in balsamic vinegar.
Bring a pan to medium-high heat and add oil. Let it get hot. Place seasoned scallops in the pan and brown on one side for 3 to 4 minutes. Don’t touch the scallops to let them form a nice brown crust. Flip the scallops and add the butter. Use a small spoon to baste the scallops with the hot butter for 2 to 3 minutes. Let scallops drain and rest on paper towels.
Slice the lardo as thin as possible and cut down to the size of the scallops. Let the lardo rest at room temperature for a minute. Place a teaspoon of the peach sauce on a plate, and place a scallop on top of it. Top the scallop off with a slice of lardo and mint.
Serves 4. Recipe from Wine Spectator.