Monday, April 12, 2010

Bacon scallops with artichokes

I love scallops, I love bacon and I love artichokes maybe most of all. They are like the lobsters of the vegetable world--they look inedible in their natural state but there's nothing more delicious than picking them apart and dipping what you find in butter. You prepare them by slicing off the top inch or so and trimming up the stems until they can stand more or less evenly. I started by simmering a sprig of fresh thyme with a bay leaf and one garlic clove in about 2 inches of water. Pop in 2 big, trimmed artichokes with a slice of lemon on top. Cover them up and let steam for about 25 minutes, then try tugging one of the leaves out. If it doesn't pop off easily, it needs more time so check back in 10 minutes or so. Meanwhile, you can make bacon scallops! Chop half a package of bacon into 1 inch pieces and fry until crispy.Drain them well and set aside while you finish up the scallops.Drain off most of the fat but don't clean out your delicious, bacony pan--you can add a little butter if the pan seems too dry. Get it quite hot over medium-high heat and add in as many large scallops as you need. This was just for two people so I didn't have all that many. It's all about the artichokes for me anyway.Give them a nice coating of fresh ground black pepper and a little pinch of salt. Flip them over after just a scant 2 minutes, once they've developed a nice sear, and add pepper to that side as well. Then pour in a splash of white wine from the glass you're drinking out of, let them cook for 1 more minute and remove from heat. That's it! You don't want to overcook scallops.Quickly turn up the heat in the pan to reduce the delicious bacony-wine liquid, while whisking in a pinch of fresh minced parsley and a teaspoon of dijon mustard. Pour this over each serving of scallops and top with the crispy bacon pieces.By now your artichokes are all steamed--cut each one in half and serve alongside your scallops. For dipping the leaves and the heart, I usually just melt some butter and mix in the juice from 1 lemon along with a few capers. But I know some people like a simple balsamic vinaigrette with their artichokes or a hollandaise-type sauce instead, so I'll just leave that part to your discretion.

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