Do you ever panic that this will be the last week that fresh corn is available at your farm stand or market? I do. In fact, I wondered if today was that day at the Heirloom Farmers Market.
George, at Grammy's, had plenty of corn and assured me there was more coming. He knows. *
Today's post harkens back to the train trip Mark and I took up the West Coast a couple of years ago, cooking our hearts out as we went.
In Seattle, at Pikes Place Market, I saw the most beautiful scallops, and then spotted heaps of fresh corn. And, then we discovered artisanal pancetta at the Italian salumeria.
As Slow Food goes, it was pretty quick: in less time than it takes to get your first course at a chain restaurant, I had made this really tasty meal in our Airbnb apartment. The meal was for Derrick and Sam, friends who had just moved to Seattle.
This is a simple meal, but very rich and, when recreating it today, my greedy eyes made the portions too big! Luckily, we had the dish for mid-day dinner, so afternoon naps in our porch chairs ensued!
I have cut the recipe to be perfect for two, and it can easily be doubled. But, honestly, three big scallops per person is just perfect for this. If the scallops aren't all that big, use four.
The tarragon lends a nice sweetness to the corn; if you don't like tarragon, you can use basil, or thyme. Or you can leave it plain.
The two distinctly different types of crunch from the bell pepper and the pancetta play a nice counterpart to the soft and silky corn and scallop combination.
It's just a happy, sunny, end of summer delight!
Seared Scallops on Creamed Corn with Pancetta
4 ears of corn
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 cup cream
6-8 large scallops
extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon diced red bell pepper
2 ounces pancetta, diced
Start by making the creamed corn. Cook the corn in any manner you choose. I opted for the microwave version: place all four ears, unshucked, in the microwave and cook on HIGH for 12 minutes. (The general rule for microwaving corn-in-its-husk is 3 minutes per ear.) Using an oven mitt, hold each cooked ear and slice off the stem end where the ear is thickest. Then holding the silk and husk at the pointy end, squeeze and shake a little and the ear of corn will slip out easily, leaving husk and silk behind. Let cool.
Grate the ears of corn on the large holes of a box grater into a bowl. Transfer the corn to a medium saucepan and add the butter and tarragon. Cook over medium heat until the butter is melted and the tarragon is fragrant. Add the cream, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Keep warm while you cook the scallops.
Pat scallops dry with paper towels. Place some flour on a plate and season well with salt and pepper. Coat the two flat sides of each scallop with the flour mixture and set aside. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat; add butter and some olive oil. When melted and sizzling, add the scallops and cook for 1-2 minutes per side. They should be nice and brown on the tops, yet still moist inside.
Meanwhile, place the pancetta in a small, nonstick pan and cook over medium heat until rendered and golden.
To plate, divide corn among two dinner plates and sprinkle with diced bell pepper. Top with scallops and then sprinkle with pancetta.
Serves 2, but can be doubled.
* Sadly, Sue - aka Grammy - died recently and we all miss her. George and his kids have been keeping her memory alive each week at the Saturday and Sunday markets. Give them a hug if you see them.