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On Windows and Scallops

After studying all day in his office, Dave ‘s work day isn’t over. There’s wood to haul in, and a stove to fill and keep stoked. There’s an old window leaning against the building-formerly-known-as-the-chicken-coop, waiting for his level, and pencil, and chainsaw. There are dogs waiting for food, and a wife waiting for conversation. And he obliges us all.

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So the very least I can do is bring him a plate of something tasty. Tonight it’s scallops.

Scallops Over Pasta with a Garlic-Wine Sauce

  • 1 lb scallops (I used bay, but if you can splurge, the larger ones are nice)
  • olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • garlic powder
  • 2/3 cup white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • cooked spaghetti
  • pine nuts
  • fresh basil, chopped

This goes fast, so have your ingredients ready and put the pasta on to cook before you put the scallops in the pan.

Rinse the scallops well and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and let sit while you chop the garlic and basil.

In a cast iron skillet (preferred) or your heaviest skillet, pour  a few glugs of olive oil. By this I mean that you want to add enough that you can cook the scallops, but not so much that they’re swimming in oil. Heat for a few minutes until a drop of water sizzles in the pan. Add half the scallops. Overcrowding will release too much of the liquid in the scallops, and you’ll end up boiling them instead of searing them. Add the chopped garlic and cook for one minute, allowing the scallops to sear on one side. Sprinkle with a little garlic powder and stir the pan to release the scallops. (Bay scallops are so small that you’re not going to be able to sear them on the other side before your two minutes are up, but if you use the larger sea scallops, flip them to sear the other side.)

At the one minute mark, pour in half the wine. Cook one minute more (just two minutes total for bay scallops, or they’ll get rubbery and unappealing; five minutes total for the large scallops), and then remove the scallops and garlic from the pan and put them in a bowl. Continue cooking the wine down until it thickens slightly, then spoon that over the scallops. Try to get all the sauce (and especially all the garlic powder) out of the pan. You’re going to do this all over again, and if you leave a lot of the garlic powder in the pan, your next batch of sauce may take on a burnt garlic taste.

Repeat with the remaining scallops, starting again with a fresh glug of olive oil. At the end of this batch, when you’re reducing the wine sauce down, add any juice you find in the bowl containing the scallops. You want as much sauce as possible. And if you use/eat butter, turn off the heat at the very end and stir a tablespoon of butter into the sauce. I didn’t use this, and we still loved it … but if we still ate butter, I’d definitely add a spoonful.

When all is cooked, serve scallops and sauce over a bed of cooked pasta. Garnish with pine nuts and basil.

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