Jean-Georges is one of my favorite French chefs. I made his “Chicken with Vinegar” as a dish at one of my gourmet food group luncheons and it was a big hit! When I came across his recipe for Seared Scallops with Caper-Raisin Sauce defined as his Iconic Seared Scallops, I knew I had to try it. I’m always on the hunt for a unique appetizer for dinner parties and this sounded like a perfect fit. It is made with caramelized scallops served over a fruity, buttery caper-raisin sauce that is to die for, with thin slices of seared cauliflower on top coated in a parsley pan sauce. Yum!!
The first step is to make the sauce:
- In a small saucepan, combine the capers, raisins and 3/4 cup of water. Simmer over moderately low heat until the raisins are plump, 10 to 15 minutes; do not boil. Transfer to a blender and puree. With the blender on, add 6 tablespoons of the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until incorporated. Add the sherry vinegar to the caper-raisin sauce and season with salt and pepper. (I did not notice the “do not boil” comment so my sauce did boil a bit, but it didn’t seem to affect the consistency or flavor at all.)
The next step is to cook the cauliflower and then set it aside and keep it warm:
- In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add half of the cauliflower and cook over moderately high heat, turning, until crisp-tender, 5 minutes. Transfer to a rimmed plate, then repeat with 1 tablespoon each of the butter and oil and the remaining cauliflower. Let the skillet cool for 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of water and cook over moderate heat, scraping up any browned bits, 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley and pour the pan sauce over the cauliflower; keep warm. (I also did not notice the extremely important note about letting the skillet cool for 2 minutes before adding the water. Yikes, did it splatter!! Make sure you let it cool:-)
Now on to the scallops:
- In a nonstick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in 1 tablespoon of the oil. Season the scallops with salt and pepper and add half to the skillet. Cook over moderately high heat, without turning, until the scallops are golden brown on the bottom, 3 minutes; transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil and the scallops. Rewarm the caper-raisin sauce. (My scallops did get a decent sear, however, I think it would have worked even better without the butter by just cooking in hot oil. I will also use my griddle pan next time instead of my cast iron skillet as the liquid tends to puddle in the middle of the pan a bit, poaching the scallops while searing them)
- Spoon the raisin sauce onto 4 plates. Top with the scallops, browned side up. Arrange a cauliflower slice on each scallop, spoon a little of the pan sauce over and garnish with the nutmeg. Serve at once. (They were delightfully delicious with a sweet & salty flavor that would pair beautifully with a nice Sparkling wine)