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Pan Seared Scallops in Creamy Champagne Sauce

Serves 2     adjust servings

If you have never paired tender, buttery, pan seared scallops with a creamy wine sauce, you are totally missing out! Toss the whole thing with some fresh linguine and crispy crumbled bacon, and you have a very special dinner for two for Valentine's Day. 

Ingredients

  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 8 ounces scallops, fresh or thawed if they were frozen
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 large shallots, sliced (about 1 and 1/2 cups)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar (optional)
  • 1 cup white wine or champagne (I used Sherry cooking wine)
  • 1 and 3/4 cup chicken broth**
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme (or 3/4 teaspoon dried)
  • large pot of salted boiling water (for pasta)
  • 8 ounces linguine pasta
  • 3-4 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded (to garnish)

Instructions

  1. In a large, high sided skillet, cook the chopped bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the bacon is crisp tender. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and set aside. Turn off the heat and use a spoon to transfer some of the bacon grease to a small bowl. Leave about 2-3 tablespoons of bacon grease in the pan (for searing scallops).
  2. While the bacon is cooking, prepare the scallops. Make sure they are completely thaw (run under cool water until they are thaw.) Use your fingers to remove the side muscle from each scallop, if they are there (sometimes it just falls off and you don't need to worry about it. It's not difficult to find. The side muscles are just a little bit tough, which is why we are removing them.)
  3. Pat each scallop dry with a paper towel, then sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Don't go too crazy, scallops are naturally briny.
  4. Turn the heat on to medium high. When the bacon grease is very hot and shimmery (but before it smokes! or it will turn black instead of golden) add all the scallops to the pan, one at a time, with at least 2 inches of space in between each scallop.
  5. Sear scallops on medium high heat for about 1 and 1/2 to 2 minutes, or until there is a golden crust on the bottom. If you look at the side of the scallop, it should look cooked about 1/3 of the way up.
  6. Carefully flip each scallop, then immediately turn off the heat. Let the other side sear for about 1 minute.
  7. Remove the scallops to a plate and set aside.
  8. Add 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease that you removed back into the pan. Add the shallots to the hot pan (medium high heat). Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  9. Add 2 teaspoons of flour and cook for 1 more minute.
  10. Add 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar. This is optional (and expensive) so you can skip it if you want. I like the flavor it adds.
  11. Add 1 cup champagne or white wine. I use a Sherry cooking wine. Turn the heat up to high and cook for about 2 minutes, until it has evaporated some.
  12. Add 1 and 3/4 cup chicken broth (see note). Continue cooking over high heat for about 3 minutes, until it starts to thicken.
  13. Turn off the heat and stir in 1/2 cup cream, 2 teaspoons dijon mustard, and 2 teaspoons fresh thyme.
  14. Add the scallops to the pan and coat with sauce to heat through. Keep the burner on low if your pasta is not ready yet.
  15. Meanwhile, prepare the pasta. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add 1/2 tablespoon of salt (or just add salt until it tastes like the ocean).
  16. Add the linguine and stir. Keep stirring occasionally until the pasta is almost al dente, about 7 minutes. In the last minute of cooking time, add a few large handfuls of spinach to the water. Drain the pasta and spinach and return it to the pot.
  17. Add about 1 cup of the sauce to the pot of pasta and stir. (if your sauce is not finished, drizzle pasta with olive oil, to keep it from sticking.)
  18. Divide the pasta between two plates. (see note). Top with scallops and plenty of sauce.
  19. Microwave the bacon for about 20-30 seconds to warm it.
  20. Sprinkle each plate with bacon, fresh thyme, and shredded parmesan cheese.

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