A very popular appetizer at parties and restaurants in New England is bacon wrapped sea scallops. While this is a delicious starter, I wanted the same flavors for an evening meal and created Pan Seared Sea Scallops With Bacon Lardons On Creamy Corn Polenta. Each bite of crisp, salty smoked bacon, tender sea scallops, and creamy corn polenta is a nice contrast of textures and flavors that is a true taste treat in your mouth.
Pan Seared Sea Scallops With Bacon Lardons On Creamy Corn Polenta
Recipe serves two, adjust according
Creamy Corn Polenta
- corn kernels cut from 2 ears of fresh corn or about 1 c. if using frozen corn
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. butter plus an additional Tbsp. butter
- 1/2 c. half & half or whole milk (do not use reduced fat milk or it will curdle)
- 1/2 c. polenta
- 2 c. of liquid (water, chicken or vegetable broth can be used) *
- 1/4 tsp. salt (if using broth, you may not need the salt)
- salt and pepper to taste
- sniped chives for garnish (optional)
*The basic ratio for cooking polenta is 1 part polenta to 4 parts of liquid.
Divide the corn kernels in half. Add the half & half to a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Add one half of the corn and simmer for 3 – 5 minutes. Using a stick blender, blend until you have a smooth consistency then set the mixture aside.
Heat olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter in a small sauté pan until the butter is melted. Cook the remainder of the corn over medium heat for 3 – 5 minutes, then set aside.
In a large saucepan, bring the liquid and salt to a boil. Slowly whisk in the polenta in a fine steady stream to prevent clumping. Reduce heat to simmer and cover with a lid slightly askew to prevent splattering. Stir often with a long handle spoon as it thickens, adding extra liquid if necessary. Cook until the polenta becomes creamy, about 25-30 minutes (the cooking time may be different depending on the polenta you use.)
Add the pureed corn and cook a few minutes more then stir in the sautéed corn kernels, reserving a few for garnish. Stir in butter and season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm. The polenta will thicken as it cools so prepare it as close to serving time as possible. Add more liquid to loosen, if necessary.
Scallops With Bacon Lardons
- 2 slices of bacon (I used thick sliced applewood smoked bacon)
- 1 Tbsp. oil
- sea scallops (I use large U10 dry scallops** and figure 4 or 5 a person)
- salt and pepper to taste
**Dry scallops are all wild and natural. They are not treated with any chemicals whatsoever and will brown nicely.
Slice the bacon into 1/4 inch slices, place in a nonstick sauté pan and cook until crisp. Remove and place on paper towel. Reserve the bacon drippings.
Dry the sea scallops well and season both sides with salt and pepper to taste. Add the oil to the bacon drippings. When the oil is shimmering, add the scallops in one layer and cook undisturbed for one and a half to two minutes or until golden. Turn and cook for approximately another minute or two until golden brown. They should be be a little translucent in the center and almost firm to the touch. Do not over cook or the scallops will be tough. ***Be sure to not overcrowd the scallops or they will not brown properly. Cook in two batches, if necessary.
To serve, stir the polenta well (adding a little half & half or liquid if necessary) then spoon a portion in the center of a plate. Top with a portion of sea scallops, sprinkle with the bacon lardons, the reserved corn kernels and garnish with chives.
This dish had all the flavors of bacon wrapped scallops that I love as an appetizer but offered so much more for an evening meal. The creamy corn polenta, the succulent scallops and the bacon lardons were a perfect combination of salty, sweet, soft and crispy. I believe this recipe would also make a wonderful first course, serving one or two scallops a person, depending on the size of the scallops.