Barely cooked scallops with tomato compote and champagne beurre blanc

Eric Ripert is easy to love. He’s got those charming French looks, and a fantastic food show, and Le Bernardin of course, with its pounded tuna over foie gras and toasted broiche.

scallops

He also has these scallops, served over a tomato compote, drizzled with champagne beurre blanc, which would be impossible not to love, and are the reason I’ve been doggedly devoted to the man as of late. In the past few weeks I’ve made this, and this and tonight will be making this; but these scallops remain my favorite, even though that’s like choosing between chocolate and craft beers.

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You’ll need to find good scallops for this recipe; nothing frozen, or slimy, or discolored. Small dayboat scallops are best. “Dayboat” means that the fishermen who dredged up your scallops were only out on the water for the day before heading back with their bounty. Otherwise, your scallops could have been sitting out at sea on the boat for up to ten days before the fishermen returned to harbor. And, trust me, eaten mostly raw, scallops that are over 10 days old are as yucky as they sound. The quality of the scallops matters much more than the champagne here, so spend your budget on those and buy yourself a $10-$15 bottle of bubbly—just make sure it’s drinkable, since you’ll have a lot leftover.

tomato compote

The freshness of the scallops is also more important than the freshness of the tomatoes; though Ripert uses fresh ones, I’ve only made this with canned San Marzano (whole, peeled, which I core and de-seed) and I’m assuming it doesn’t affect the quality of the compote, being that I adore it so much. I’m looking forward to using ripe, fresh tomatoes next summer, though I have a feeling I may like this version even better. There’s something luscious about good canned tomatoes cooked down with a bevy of shallot and garlic and a good slick of olive oil.

Scallops

It’s the perfect time of year for scallops in champagne beurre blanc anyway, whether you make them now, in the week right after Thanksgiving and before the Christmas gorging begins, when you need something healthy but not too healthy, or you could wait and serve them as a first course for a luxurious New Year’s Eve bash of a dinner party. It’s pretty darn holiday looking, too, don’t you think?

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Barely Cooked Scallops with Tomato Compote and Champagne Beurre Blanc

adapted slightly from Avec Eric

Ripert uses this recipe as an appetizer for four people, but I’ve also used it as a main course, with a good bread alongside, for two. If making it for two, you’ll have a lot of beurre blanc left over (not a bad thing…) as it’s more than even to sauce the four appetizer plates.

The recipe also alludes to smoked salmon being used. I watched the episode and there was no sneaky smoked salmon tip-toeing around, so I think it’s a typo.

The Tomato Compote:

2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup diced shallot
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 (28 oz) can of good quality tomatoes, drained, cored, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

The Champagne Beurre Blanc:

1 cup Champagne or other dry sparkling wine
¼ cup finely minced shallots
½ cup butter
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

The Scallops:

¾ pound day boat scallops
2 tablespoons thinly sliced chives
1 tablespoon olive oil, or more to taste
fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and cook over medium low heat stirring frequently, until almost dry, about 15-25 minutes.

Combine Champagne and shallots in a sauce pot and reduce to ¼ cup. This can be done ahead and kept covered.

While the wine is reducing, slice the scallops crosswise into ½ – inch thick slices.
Preheat oven to 400°F.

Finish the beurre blanc by whisking in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated. Season to taste with a genorous amount of salt and pepper.

Lay the scallop slices in a single layer on a baking pan. Drizzle the olive oil over the scallops and season to taste with salt and pepper. Place the pan in the oven and cook until the scallops are just warm to the touch, about 4 minutes. Remove the scallops from the oven.

Plate the tomato compote in the bottom of a ring mold (you can use the tomato can for this, just use the can opener to remove both ends) and add the scallops in a pinwheel patter over the compote. Sprinkle the chives on top of the scallops and spoon the sauce over the scallops.

Serve immediately.