Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sweet Pea, Leek, Bacon Risotto w/ Seared Scallops

Even though my nut ball of a family is of German/Danish descent, we behave like the stereotypical version of full-blooded Italians (sans accent and mob affiliations).
  • We pride ourselves on our ability to drink vast quantities of good (red) wine
  • We are loud when provoked (or when not provoked)
  • And we show our love for each other with food
In early May, my mom and dad were kind enough to spend an entire weekend helping me move apartments. My mom sat beside me as we scrubbed the floors of my old place, my dad loaded an obscene amount of furniture into the back of my brother's pick-up truck, and then they both returned the next day to help me hang pictures and hooks in my new bedroom because I am useless with a hammer and drill. It isn't an exaggeration to say that I couldn't have done it without them, and to show my appreciation for all their efforts, I decided to make them a grand feast a couple weekends ago.

I'd been toying with the idea for a sweet pea, ramp, bacon risotto ever since my friend Ashley and I had the amazing seasonal sweet pea, ramp, guanciale, parma pizza at Pizzeria Mozza in April, and the "thank you" dinner for my parents seemed like the perfect opportunity to give it a test drive. My plans were somewhat hindered by my inability to find ramps at my dad's produce store, Whole Foods and some other rando grocers that I called, so I had to improvise with leeks and scallions instead. I also added seared scallops that I pan-fried in bacon fat, to beef up the meal into a full entree rather than just a baco-licious side dish. The end result was a restaurant-worthy, surprisingly light dish that more than proved to my parents that I actually do love them. Even when my dad opens a bottle of Chardonnay just to spite me (I do not feel kindly toward oaky whites).

Sweet Pea, Leek, Bacon Risotto w/ Seared Scallops
By Diana
Makes 3 generous portions (we are the hungry sort)

1 pound large sea scallops
1 cup leeks, chopped
2 scallions (green ends only), coarsely chopped
6 strips center-cut bacon (I used Oscar Meyer's)
1 cup fresh peas, shelled and steamed until just tender
1 cup risotto
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup wine
Salt, pepper to taste
Chives to garnish

Combine white wine and chicken broth in a saucepan and slowly bring to a slow boil.

Meanwhile, heat a heavy pan over medium heat and saute rice in a little olive oil until the edges of the rice turn translucent. Add some of the hot chicken broth/white wine mixture and season with pepper to taste.

While the rice cooks, warm a 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat and add 3 strips of chopped up bacon to the pan. Cook until the bacon starts to crisp and release its fat, and then add the leeks. Season with salt and pepper, and let cook together until the leeks have partially caramelized (approximately 5 minutes). Add the mixture to the rice.

Continue adding the warm broth/wine little by little, stirring occasionally, as it is absorbed. The rice/leeks should simmer at a slow boil until it reaches a somewhat soupy, slightly stiff consistency.

Approximately 7 minutes before risotto is done, heat the remaining 3 pieces of bacon in the 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Season the scallops with ground pepper and salt. When the bacon begins to release the fat and become crispy, remove the bacon from the pan and add the scallops. Cook until golden brown on both sides (approximately 2 minutes per side depending on thickness of scallops). While cooking, microwave the three slices of bacon until extra crispy. Reserve for garnish.

When risotto is done, stir in the peas, Parmesan and green onions and serve immediately. Top with scallops, crunchy bacon bits and chives.


Gastronomer said...

Scallops and bacon fat? Good call! Mum and dad must be so proud ;-)

The Duo Dishes said...

This is a good one! The scallops take us over the edge to a really great place.

ruth said...

Wow, Diana! That really looks amazing!

You should pick up some Niman Ranch bacon-- they sell it at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods-- it's about the best thing ever.

Jenn said...

I love the colors going on in that dish. I craving for scallops all of the sudden. LOL.

Diana said...

Gastronomer - Haha, they better be -- they were the ones that taught me how to do this stuff! :)

Chrystal & Amir - Thanks! All your dishes take me over the edge!

Ruth - Ohhh that sounds great! That's the thick stuff right?

Jenn - Haha, I'm craving them now too!

Esi said...

This looks so good! I kind of want to make it now...all I need are leeks. You are very lucky to have such nice parents who will help you move and they are lucky to have you cook up this feast for them!

Elra said...

Sounds incredibly yummy Diana. It certainly make me suddenly hungry again.

Heather said...

mmmmm. that risotto sounds amazing. i love bacon and scallops together. the ramp risotto sounds delish, too. ramps are my new favorite thing! and garlic scapes are right around the corner!!!!!!!!!!

Kirby! said...

Check you out!! This looks awesome-- very elegant!

Justin said...

some of my most favorite things, all combined into one. i'm impressed.

The Blonde Duck said...

Ben and I are German too! We're all Germies! (German Twinkies) Have you ever had potato candy? It's a german recipe my grandmother made.

Erica said...

This looks seriously professional! I'm all for this (minus the bacon ;)). Putting it on my to make list!