Monday, April 9, 2012

Scallops with Lemon Asparagus Risotto

Scallops are a special treat for us, mainly because they are so expensive, and you never know how fresh they are when you get them at the grocery store.  With a few more $25 off coupons to use with Arganica (organic food delivery service) I didn't feel so bad about spending $16 for a pound of fresh sea scallops.  One pound got us 18 scallops, ranging in size.  To go along with them, I wanted something that wouldn't out shine their fresh flavor, but still delicious in it's own right.  I decided on a lemon asparagus risotto that would be a creamy and bright contrast with the rich flavor of the scallops.   It was a great combination, the risotto was so good it could easily be a meal in itself.  But the scallops added another layer of decadence to the dish- they were amazing!  They got a nice brown sear using the cast iron skillet.  This isn't your average dinner... it takes time and special attention, but it is totally worth it in the end! 
1 lb asparagus
fresh sea scallops (the number is up to you... we did 10 for two servings but it was a lot)
3 T grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
2 shallots, minced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1 lemon, zested and juiced
6 cups low sodium chicken or seafood stock
1 1/2 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Wash the asparagus, trim off the tough ends, and cut the stalks into 2 inch pieces.  Heat the chicken or seafood stock in a medium pot  with 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil.  Blanch the asparagus in the boiling stock for about 2 minutes, and drain it with a slotted spoon.  Set it to the side. Turn off the heat and leave the stock covered so it will be hot for the risotto.
In a large sauce pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat and add the shallots and a sprinkle of salt.  Saute for about 5 minutes until they are soft and translucent.  Add the rice, and stir until all of the grains are coated in oil.  
Let it toast for a couple minutes, and then add the wine and stir, turn heat to medium-low.  Add half of the lemon juice to the mixture.  Once the wine has completely evaporated, begin adding the stock, one ladle-full at a time.  
Stir the risotto frequently.  Once each ladle-full of stock has been absorbed by the rice, you know to add another one.  Continue adding stock and stirring until the risotto is al dente.  I used just about all 6 cups of stock.  You may need slightly more or less to reach your desired consistency.  (Use water if you run out of stock).  The risotto should be very creamy- if it is a little stiff, just add a bit more of the stock to loosen it up.  It takes about 25-30 minutes to reach this final stage.  
Stir in the cheese, lemon zest, and asparagus.  Taste for salt and pepper. 
When your risotto is about 5-7 minutes away from being done, begin cooking the scallops.  Pat them dry with a paper towel.  Sprinkle salt and pepper on top.  Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high.  Turn it down to medium right before placing the scallops in.  Let them sit without touching for about 3-4 minutes.  
Carefully check to see if they are brown on the bottom before flipping.  Cook the other side for about 2 minutes and they should be done.  

Remove from the pan, and serve over a mound of risotto with some extra cheese and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  This combination of flavors is so amazing- enjoy!

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