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Seared Sea Scallops with Golden Raisin Puree and Bacon Braised Brussels Sprouts is a decedent savory sweet combination with layers of elegant flavors. It’s perfect for any date night meal!
A note regarding timing: It’s very important to have everything that will be plated, totally cooked before cooking the scallops. The Brussels sprouts and raisin puree can be made up to a day in advance and reheated before serving. If preparing the Brussels sprouts in advance, reserve the bacon and it add to the sprouts after reheating to maintain its crispness.
1. For the Brussels sprouts: In a large saute pan over medium-heat, add bacon. Cook stirring occasionally until the fat is rendered out and the bacon is golden and crispy (about 5 minutes). Remove the bacon to a plate and set aside. Leave the grease in the pan. To the same saute pan add Brussels sprouts, salt, and pepper. Stir to evenly coat and saute for 5 minutes until the sprouts are lightly browned. Add chicken broth, stir, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes until the sprouts are tender, can easily be pierced with a fork, and the broth has evaporated. Add additional chicken broth if the pan becomes dry before the sprouts finish cooking.
When it’s cooled, crumble the bacon. Toss the cooked Brussels sprouts with 3/4 of the cooked bacon, cover to keep warm, and set aside until ready to serve. The reserved bacon will be used as garnish.
2. For the golden raisin puree: Place the raisins in a small sauce pot, add the water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes until the raisins are plump. Drain the raisins, reserving 1 tablespoon of the cooking liquid. Place the raisins and the tablespoon of cooking liquid in a food processor or high powered blender and puree for 1 minute until completely smooth. Remove the puree from the food processor and set aside.
3. For the Crispy Vermicelli Garnish (optional): Rice vermicelli (sometimes labeled rice sticks) is an Asian rice noodle that can be found in the international aisle of major grocery stores or at specialty markets. Cook it according to the package directions or place a handful of rice noodles in a bowl of hot water for 5 to 10 minutes and soak until soft or al dente. Drain off the water and pat them completely dry with paper towels. It’s important that the noodles are very dry or else the retained water will cause the hot oil to spatter.
Heat oil in a large saute pan, Dutch oven, or wok over medium-high heat. Once hot, add a small handful (2 large tablespoons) of vermicelli noodles for each garnish. I like to do more than 2 just in case one burns or to have to snack on while finishing. Once the noodles start to turn golden, carefully flip with a fork or tongs. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes until completely golden. Remove the crispy vermicelli noodle stacks to a plate covered with a paper towel to drain. Lightly sprinkle with salt and set aside.
4. For the seared sea scallops: If present, remove the small side muscle from the scallops (you can also ask your fishmonger to do this) and thoroughly pat dry. And I mean dry! You’ll get a better sear this way. Sprinkle a good pinch of salt, pepper, and paprika on each scallop, top and bottom. Heat oil (not olive oil it will burn) in a cast iron or stainless steel pan on high. Once the oil is hot and begins to lightly smoke, place the scallops in the pan. Cook for 2 minutes, flip the scallops, then cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes until golden. Immediately, remove the scallops to a plate, turn off the heat and add the butter. Stir and deglaze the pan with the butter.
5. Time to plate! How you plate is up to you. You can get as creative as you wish. First, spoon a tablespoon or two of the golden raisin puree onto the plates. Next, place the scallops (3 to a person) on the plate and drizzle with a spoonful of the melted butter. To the plate, add the braised Brussels sprouts, the reserved bacon, and garnish with crispy vermicelli.
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