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Seared Scallops with Polenta,
Orange-Fennel Sauce, and
Crispy Fried Leeks

This recipe is easy if you take it in stages. First, do all of your preparation for the Orange-Fennel Sauce, then fry up the leeks. (If you can’t find leeks, use fresh spring onions.) Prepare the polenta and keep it warm. Next sear the scallops and keep them warm, then prepare the Orange-Fennel Sauce. Divide the polenta in the middle of four plates, surround it with six scallops per plate, the spoon the sauce over and top with some crispy leeks or onions. Everyone will be convinced you spent the winter studing cooking in Tuscany.

Serves 4

24 large dry-pack sea scallops
1/4 cup olive oil
2 shallots, diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger,
2 heads fennel, core removed, julienne, fronds reserved (see recipe below)
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 oranges, sectioned, pith removed
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (no seeds please)
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons butter
Parmesan Polenta (recipe follows)
Crispy Fried Leeks (optional garnish) (recipe follows)

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over a medium heat and sear the scallops for about 2 minutes on both sides, until light brown. Scallops should be medium-rare. Set aside.

Drain excess oil from pan, add shallots and sauté until tender and brown. Add ginger, garlic, and julienned fennel and toss lightly. (Fennel fronds will be used in biscuit recipe, below.) Add wine and continue cooking until fennel is tender, about 5 minutes, and wine is almost completely reduced. Add orange juice, salt and pepper to taste. When orange juice comes to a boil, whip in butter and remove from heat and add orange sections. To serve, place polenta in center of plate, arrange scallops around polenta, spoon fennel-orange sauce over and, if desired, garnish with crispy fried leeks.


Parmesan Polenta

3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup polenta
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring water to a boil in heavy saucepan. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, then add polenta slowly, stirring with a wire whisk. Lower heat to a simmer and cook polenta until thick and shiny. Add butter, cheese, salt and pepper. Keep warm while preparing the scallops


Crispy Fried Leeks

1 large leek, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cups flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Vegetable oil for frying

Slice leek in half lengthwise and julienne-slice. As leeks are often sandy, wash them well in cold water, shake off excess, and dry very well with paper towels. Season the flour with salt and pepper; dust leek strips, shaking off excess flour. Pour oil into a frying pan to a depth of 1 to 1 1/2 inches. Heat the oil over medium high heat to about 350F and fry leeks until brown and crispy. Remove with slotted utensil to paper towels and drain well.

Source: Coastal Cooking with John Shields (Broadway, 2004)


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