Saturday, April 26, 2014

Cider-Glazed Scallops and Mushroom Quinoa Risotto

**Originally posted on Greensgrow's blog**
This week’s fantastic mushroom mix from Phillip's Farm begged us to be made into a risotto. And with last pick-up's shallot's still lying around, we happily obligued.  In place of traditional arborio rice, we choose quinoa, which contains more protien, fewer carbs and cooks in a fraction of the time.  We finished the “risotto” with Misty Creek aged goat cheese (picked up at Greensgrow's farmstand) to highlight the mushroom's earthiness.

To accompany the risotto, we choose diver scallops.  These meaty mullosks, with thier sweet, buttery flavor and pleasently springy texture, are one of my favorite foods.  And I know I'm not the only one who thinks so.  Scallops are steadfast top sellers at any restaurant, so odds are you’ve ordered them yourself at one point or another.  But have you ever pan-seared them at home?

 Scallops' huge flavor is undoubtedly hard to improve upon.  But I figured I'd take a stab at it anyway, by using a tried and true apple cider honey glaze. Yes, the glaze will require some of this week's Weaver’s Orchard apple cider. But fret not: we need only a single cup. You'll have plenty left to enjoy as a crisp, refreshing beverage.

.Quinoa Risotto:
Cook time: 25 min
Serves 4

  • 1 pound mixed mushrooms, chopped (shitaki, crimini and oyster mushrooms)
  • 5 medium shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 4 cups water or stock
  • 2 Tbl butter
  • 2 cups grated aged goat cheese
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • In a 6-quart pot, melt butter over medium flame and sweat shallots until they become translucent.
  • Add mushrooms and cook until they begin to brown. 
  • Look for brown material collecting on the bottom of the pot.  That’s caramelized sugar cooking out of the veggies, and in the culinary world it’s called fond.  
  • When a decent amount of fond has collected, pour in the apple cider vinegar.  As the cold liquid hits the hot pan the temperature instantly drops and the fond is loosened. You can now scrape it off with a wooden spoon and incorporate it into the risotto.
  • Add water or stock and bring to a boil.
  • Add in quinoa and let simmer for 7 – 10 minutes.  You’ll know the quinoa’s done when it’s enlarged, softened and a tiny sprout pops out of the seed.
  • Stir in grated cheese and finish with lemon juice.

Honey Cider Glaze:
Cook time: 10 minutes

  • 1 cup apple cider
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • In a medium sauce pan, bring apple cider and vinegar to a simmer
  • Whisk in sugar and honey
  • Reduce by half or until a syrupy consistency is achieved
  • Reserve until scallops are ready
Searing Scallops:
  • For this recipe we used one pound of diver scallops—the big guys.  No matter which kind you choose, always buy fresh, dry scallops.  Never wet.  Wet scallops have been treated with a chemical preservative which causes them to absorb moisture and swell in size.  They may look bigger and more appealing behind the counter, but as soon as they hit a pan they shrink substantially and the high moisture content makes it difficult to get a good sear.
  • Begin by removing any “beards” remaining on the scallops.  These are the small, easily detachable tissue on the side.  Next, sandwich the scallops between several paper towels to remove excess moisture.  Water repels oil, and you need oil to conduct heat to your scallops.  Therefore: the less moisture, the better the sear.
  • Heat a heavy sauté pan (I use a cast iron skillet) on high and add a generous amount of cooking oil.  When you can see ripples in the oil and it just starts to smoke, it’s hot enough to sear.
  • Season your scallops with salt and pepper and place them carefully in the pan. Ensure they are flat and square against the metal.  You can push them down a little to maximize the surface contact.  Do this, and a crispy, golden sear is easy.
  • After about two or three minutes, start flipping them with a spatula.  They should be a nice golden brown color.  If some aren’t, just flip them right back over and give them another minute to finish browning.
  • When all scallops are flipped, kill the heat and add one tablespoon of butter.  It should melt almost instantly in the ripping hot pan.  Pour in your glaze and baste over the scallops using a spoon.

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