Scallops (Darren’s Contribution)
Since we live in the country and have limited access to a fish monger, we purchased frozen scallops. This means they are “wet” scallops that have been soaked in a preservative to help them stay moist when frozen. The problem with wet is they are difficult to get a good sear on them without over cooking. I did some research and we’re going to be the “Prentice Test Kitchen” tonight.
The obvious train of thought is to remove as much of the “wet” as possible. I found three techniques: 1) soak them in a brine solution for 30 minutes prior to cooking; 2) salt them for 15 minutes prior to cooking; and 3) microwave for 15 seconds. We use the microwave for heating up foods and drinks, but never in the cooking process; therefore, #3 is out. Tonight we’re trying the remaining two techniques. Either way, the cooking method is the same.
Thaw the scallops in the refrigerator. Once thawed, remove the tendons and give a quick rinse in water.
While brining a “wet scallop” to dry it sounds counterproductive, it comes from America’s Test Kitchen. The brine consists of 1 quart cold water, 2 tablespoons of salt, and ¼ cup of lemon juice. Brine the scallops for 30 minutes prior cooking. Pat dry with paper towels but to not add salt before cooking.
Place scallops on a tray lined with towels. Generously salt them and cover with another towel. Allow to “sweat” for 15 minutes prior to cooking.
Use a non-stick skillet. We will use my favorite #8 cast iron skillet (one I refurbished). Heat to high heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil with a high smoke point (grapeseed or avocado oil). Place the scallops in the skillet where they are not touching and sear for 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Just before turning, add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Flip the scallops and then, using a spoon, baste them with the melted butter for another 1 ½ minutes. Place the cooked scallops on a grated pan and loosely tent. Wipe the skillet with paper towels and repeat the process with the second batch.
Perfect Risotto in 18 Minutes (Sharon’s Contribution)
I was always afraid to make Risotto because I heard how difficult it was to make. Turns out it’s pretty easy if you make it a priority. I researched several recipes and found the perfect explanation at www.spinachtiger.com by Angela Roberts.
Heat chicken broth in separate pot. Once hot, turn to simmer. Melt butter on medium heat in a 10 inch stainless steel frying pan or an enameled cast iron small dutch oven.
Add chopped onion and cook until translucent. Add in dry arborio rice and toast for four minutes, stirring. Add in cider vinegar. or wine. Continue to stir.
Have a lid ready to immediately cover when you put the first ladle of broth. Add 1/2 cup broth. Cover for a few seconds to avoid any reaction from hot broth hitting the hot fat. Uncover. Stir until the broth is nearly all absorbed in the rice. Do not let the pan go dry.
Add another 1/2 cup broth and repeat until there is only 1/2 cup broth left to add. Each time you will notice the liquid getting a creamier consistency. Stir constantly. This is not a dish you can multitask with. Add in broth 1/4 cup at a time at the end, so as to not overcook the rice.
At the end of about 18 minutes, you should be at the end of the broth. Taste the rice. If it gives yet still has a bite, take it off. If it crunches, then cook another minute, stirring constantly. If you run out of broth and you're sure the rice is not done, add a small amount of water, (tablespoon or so).
Remove from stove, Stir in grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Garnish with chopped parsley.
AVOID THESE MISTAKES FOR PERFECT RISOTTO