Sunday, February 9, 2014

Pan Seared Scallops with Lemon-Basil Beurre Blanc, Pancetta, Apple and Fennel for a #SundaySupper Valentine's Dish for Two

Pan Seared Scallops with Lemon-Basil Beurre Blanc, Pancetta, Apple and Fennel

I hate Valentine's Day. Don't get me wrong; I can appreciate the sentiment but let's look at what the day has become over the years for us guys: First, we get to spend $150 for a dozen roses that can be bought for $20 the other fifty-one weeks of the year on top of a box of chocolates that will come back to bite us in the ass the first week of March when our lady asks do I look fat?. Then we get to go to a local fine dining establishment where you can get up close and personal...with the couple two tables over because you can hear their conversation as you're packed in the building like sardines.

Romantic, eh?

I have a better idea. Unfortunately, you're on your own with the florists and confectioners, but why not take the time to cook at home? This week, the team at #SundaySupper Movement decided to tackle Valentine's Day recipes for two to help out.

The Challenge

In terms of the dish itself, I wanted to achieve redemption with this dish on a couple of levels. First, I was not satisfied with the sear on the scallops dish I published about a year ago. Second, a couple of weeks ago I had problems adding butter to a sauce so I wanted to address the issue head on.

The Source

I relied heavily on The Flavor Bible for the flavor profiles of the dish but got a little help from The Atlantic magazine and some inspiration from Green Spot Blue


1 Granny Smith apple, julienned
1 small fennel bulb, sliced thin
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 ounces pancetta, diced
6 to 8 sea scallops
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 shallot, chopped fine
1 cup white wine
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, but kept refrigerated until used


1. Place the apples and fennel into a bowl of ice water and set aside.

2. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a medium sauté pan. Once hot, add the pancetta and render fat but don't let it crisp, approximately 5 minutes. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.

3. In a large skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil over high heat. Pat the scallops dry and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Once hot, add the scallops and sear on one side only, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside to allow for carryover cooking while the sauce is prepared.

4. For the beurre blanc, combine the shallot, wine and lemon juice in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the mixture until it's nearly dry (approximately 3 tablespoons). Reduce the heat to low and whisk in 2 to 3 cubes of butter, continually whisking until melted. Once melted, repeat the procedure with additional cubes until all the butter is used. Control the heat of the sauce by whisking off heat if necessary so the sauce does not separate. It should be thick and creamy. Add in the basil to wilt for 1 minute and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

5. For presentation, spoon some sauce onto a plate, top with 3 to 4 scallops, then scatter the apples, pancetta and fennel and serve.


First, since I didn't mark my two year anniversary of this blog properly, I wanted to note here that this is my 100th post.

For the scallops I went over to Whole Foods but found fresh ones to be very pricey. The frozen ones were a little better but in talking to their employee who works behind the seafood counter, the reason I had so much trouble with them last time is because of the nitrates used to preserve frozen scallops that are sold in many supermarkets. The ones I bought didn't contain any that weren't naturally occurring and I was happier with the sear I achieved.

One other revelation I had was when I dined at Arcadia about a month ago. (If you'll remember, I ate scallops that evening too.) Before I ate, I turned the scallops over and noticed that they were only seared on one side but were still cooked through, so I attempted the technique here and was successful.

The sauce also didn't break this time. In fact, it was the highlight of the dish.

If I prepare this dish again, I might treat the apples and fennel with a vinaigrette.

Overall, I'm very proud of this dish. It was the most well balanced plate of food I've conceptualized in both flavor and texture. In addition, I'm also pleased with it's presentation, as I consider it the prettiest I've constructed to date.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Other Sunday Supper Participants

And finally, please check out this week's other Sunday Supper contributors:

Alluring Appetizers:

Exquisite Entrees:


Decadent Desserts and Drinks:

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter every Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat.

Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy! You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.


  1. Looks like a few trial runs have landed you on the podium with a gold medal for a scrumptious scallops dish for your love. Thank you for the how-to, DB.

    AND Thank you for making me laugh, too. Very much appreciate your realistic POV about Valentine's Day =)

  2. Congrats on your 100th post and blog anniversary. What a wonderful and elegant meal for two. And I also laughed (like Kim) on your Valentine's Day POV.

  3. I love your gourmet posts, DB! If my hubby was cooking for me, I would ask for this meal!!! Love it. IS a gorgeous photo!!!

  4. You really used some wonderful flavors and ingredients here. Scallops are probably my absolute favorite when it comes to seafood!

  5. Happy 100th post!!! woot woot!!! I love scallops so much!!! so to clarify, did you buy fresh ones this time or frozen ones with no nitrates? I don't think I have ever cooked scallops for myself and totally want to try this!

  6. I have yet to have a scallop, but with your recipe I need to try it! I love it!!

  7. Scallops with pancetta and white wine -- yum! I love everything about this!

  8. (Shhhh....I agree with you about Valentine's Day.)
    Congrats on perfecting your dish!

  9. I love this dish! It's has EVERYTHING I love.

  10. Hubby adores scallops and he would fight me for these. Perfect for Valentine's Day!!

  11. What a perfect dinner for two! Such a great idea for Valentine's Day!

  12. I have never attempted scallops at home but this dish has me wanting to try it for the first time. Fantastic job.

  13. This looks so delicous and fancy! I love that you keep trying to make things better when you're not happy with them. I hope you have a happy and YUMMY VDay! HUGS

  14. DB these scallops look so sexy! Perfect for Valentine's Day!

  15. I have never cooked scallops... to tell you the truth I am quite scared of even trying... I know they cook very fast and if overcooked they are like rubber... You did a fantastic job!!! :-)

  16. I've never gone on a Valentine date before, but I'll be sure to tell the lucky guy to not worry about roses and chocolate and just make me a nice dinner ;) Scallops is a rare treat for me (price and availability), so this dish is perfect for date night.

  17. Congrats on the success of your blog AND your scallops! They sound like Valentine perfection :)

  18. There is something so romantic and fancy about scallops. These look perfectly seared. For the best sear and quality, you should ask for dry pack scallops. They are worth the splurge for a special occasion treat like this.

  19. Love that we both chose scallop dishes for this. Great minds think alike right? I love the mix of flavors you have going on here. Truly a tasty dish!!


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