Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

In my last post, Thai-Style Ground Chicken with Basil & Chiles, I mentioned a delicious recipe from Rachael Ray that I wanted to share with you. I called it “perfect for a birthday dinner” and I stand by that description. However, my birthday dinner was prepared by someone else in a kitchen far away. 720 miles away. I’ll talk about that in Sunday’s post.

I’ve been itching to make sea scallops for a while now. They’re a bit pricey so I’ve been waiting for a sale, although even when they go on sale, they still bust my budget. But once I saw this recipe in the August issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray, I knew I had to make it for a Saturday night dinner.

This is a perfect way to show off local summer corn. Jim said it was the best creamed corn he’s ever had, and I agree. I didn’t grow tarragon this year, but next year I’m going to hunt some down because it adds so much to this recipe. Tarragon is also fantastic in egg, chicken and fish dishes. It’s especially good in chicken with mustard, tarragon, shallots, vermouth and cream that I no longer make because Jim hates mustard. But if he ever goes out of town without me, you know what I’ll be cooking.

You might not be overly familiar with (or fond of) some of the ingredients in this dish, like anchovies, vermouth or tarragon. But please don’t let those perceptions dissuade you from giving this a try. I promise you, you will not taste the anchovies. They provide a backbone of umami to the dish that you will not detect, but which adds oomph to the corn. The vermouth adds a hint of dry herbiness and the tarragon adds its own special flavor. I can’t imagine omitting any of these elements.

I served the scallops and creamed corn with a side of mushrooms. Sauté a mix of sliced cremini and shiitake mushrooms with garlic, black pepper, salt and fresh thyme. I also made some baked stuffed tomatoes. Split tomatoes in half cross-wise and top them with a bit of pesto, parmesan cheese and olive oil. What a sensational summer meal.

I was swooning so much I forgot to take a photo. I stole this photo by John Kernick from the recipe’s page on Rachael Ray’s site. I didn’t garnish mine with pea shoots. My creamed corn wasn’t as liquidy as the corn in the photo so I must have cooked mine much longer than Rachael (or her staff) cooked hers. Hers looks more like a soup; mine was a thick creamy bed of corn. Sigh.

Sea Scallops with Creamed Corn and Tarragon

You’ll need a large skillet for the corn and a large cast-iron pan or skillet for the scallops.

  • Olive oil
  • 4 flat anchovy fillets, or 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 4 ears corn, kernels scraped from the cob, scrape the cobs with the back of a knife to get all the sweet juice
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup white vermouth
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
  • 12-16 large sea scallops, trimmed and patted dry
  • Canola oil

In a large skillet, heat the oil (Rachael says 3 turns of the pan) over medium to medium-high heat. Add the anchovies and let them melt into the oil, stirring a bit to break them up. Add the corn and any liquid and cook about 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Stir in the shallots and garlic, cook for 2 minutes. Add the vermouth and cook a minute or two to reduce. Add the cream, stir, and season with a little black pepper. Lower the heat to medium-low and stir until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the tarragon and simmer on low heat for a few minutes.

While the creamed corn is cooking, heat a large cast-iron skillet or other heavy pan over high heat. Season the scallops with salt and pepper. Lightly coat the pan with canola oil and add the scallops. Cook, turning once, until caramelized to a dark golden color, about 2 minutes on each side. Please don’t overcook these expensive jewels. Err on the side of undercooked (perfectly fine) rather than making them too tough.

Serve the creamed corn in shallow bowls (or regular dinner plates). Top with scallops. Prepare for ecstasy.

Original recipe: Sea Scallops with Creamed Corn and Tarragon, Every Day with Rachael Ray, August 2011

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5 thoughts on “Sea Scallops with Creamed Corn and Tarragon

  1. They really are very expensive aren’t they – but it’s worth it, they really are divine. I’ve only ever had them a couple of time, I’m really looking forward to the next. Thanks for sharing this great recipe.

    1. deirdrereid says:

      You’re welcome, thanks for reading.

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