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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.

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

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