These scallops are seared in a slick of guaciale fat, giving them a crisp crunch and a sweet bite. The blackberry sauce is both sweet and spicy, while the earthy mushroom risotto is just rich enough to bind all these flavors. Seared Scallops with Spicy Blackberry Sauce.
- ½ pound fresh blackberries
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 pinch salt
- 3 tablespoon unsalted butter (divided)
- ½ pound guanciale or pancetta (cut into 1‑inch by ¼‑inch batons)
- 1 olive oil
- 2 medium minced shallots
- 8 ounce shiitake mushroom caps (cut into ¼‑inch dice)
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- 1 cup short grain rice
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 4 cup vegetable broth warmed on stove)
- 3 tablespoon minced flat leaf parsley
- ½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- 4 large (dry) sea scallops
Make the sauce: In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan set over medium heat, combine the berries, vinegar, water, brown sugar, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt. When they begin to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, stirring often to keep the berries from sticking to the bottom and burning; about 30 minutes. The juices will thicken slightly, add 1 tablespoon butter, stirring until incorporated. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.
Strain pulp through sieve to remove seeds, being sure to rub all the berry pulp you can through the mesh. Discarding solids. Set aside.
Brown the guanciale: Toss the guanciale pieces into a cold cast iron skillet. Turn the heat to medium and cook, undisturbed until the gaunciale browns some. Shake the skillet and continue to cook until the pieces are crispy all over. Use a slotted spoon and transfer the guanciale to a paper towel lined plate. Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of the fat. Reserving the skillet for the scallops.
Make the risotto: Place a large saucepan over medium heat, add 1 tablespon olive oil and the shallots. Cook and stirring often until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms release their liquid and are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the rice and stir until the grains are well-coated and opaque, 1 to 2 minutes.. Stir in the wine and cook for 1 minute to evaporate the alcohol. Pour in 1 cup of warm broth. Stir with a wooden spoon until the rice has absorbed all the liquid, then add another 1 cup. Keep stirring while adding the broth a cup at a time, allowing the rice to mostly absorb the liquid before adding more. You may not need all of the broth. Taste the risotto and adjust seasoning; it should be slightly firm but tender and creamy. Stir in the parsley, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and cheese.
Sear the scallops: Season the scallops generously with salt and pepper. Place a the skillet containing the remaining 1 tablespoon guanciale fat over medium heat. When the fat is hot, add the scallops, and sear for 2 minutes, without moving them around. When the bottoms of the scallops look nicely browned, turn them over and sear the other side for 1 minute. Using tongs, carefully transfer the scallops to a platter lined with paper towels to blot some of the oil.
To serve: Mound the risotto in the center of each of 4 plates, set 1 scallops on top. Dot the blackberry sauce on the center of each scallop and drizzle more around the plate to taste. Garnish with guanciale and parsley. Serve warm. You may alternatively arrange the ingredients on a serving platter and let guests help themselves.