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Irish Butter-Poached Scallops with Leeks and Sweet Garden Peas

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Serves 6

  • by Cindy Pawlcyn from Cindy's Supper Club

Irish butter is much richer and has fewer milk solids than the everyday butter sold in the United States. You can substitute the more widely available European-style butter, which, like Irish butter, is higher in butterfat than standard U.S. butter.

For the gremolata
  • 1 cup coarsely shredded dried bread crumbs
  • 2 to 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or chives
  • 1 large leek, white and light green parts only, outer layers discarded and thinly sliced (3 to 3-1/2 cups)
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbs. crème fraîche or heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 7 grinds of black pepper
  • 1-3/4 to 2 cups shelled fresh or frozen English peas
  • 12 to 18 jumbo scallops, depending on everyone’s appetite
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup clarified Irish butter
  • Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • Watercress sprigs, for garnish
Tip:
To clarify the butter, melt it over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden but not browned. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve or a coffee filter into a heatproof container, leaving the milk solids behind in the sieve or filter.
Make the gremolata:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Put the bread crumbs in a small bowl, drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat evenly. Spread in a pie pan or small baking sheet and toast for 7 to 8 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Just before serving, stir in the garlic, lemon zest, and parsley.

Prepare the leeks and peas:

In a saucepan, combine the leek, butter, crème fraîche, water, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until the leeks are a little tender and the sauce is reducing. Use your best judgment as to when to add the peas. If they are fresh but starchy they may take some time, so add them as soon as the leeks start to soften. If they are frozen, they may take just 2 to 3 minutes, so add them at the end. Shake the pan occasionally during cooking to change what is on the bottom of the pan with what is on the top. Cook until the vegetables are tender.

Finish the dish:

Once the vegetables are cooking, season the scallops on both sides with salt and pepper. In a big sauté pan (large enough to hold all of the scallops in a single layer), melt the butter over medium heat. When the butter is hot and foamy, add the scallops and poach gently for 3 to 5 minutes, basting as needed, until just done. They are ready when they feel just firm to the touch.

To serve, spoon the vegetables into individual deep plates or shallow soup bowls and top with the scallops. Add the lemon zest and juice to the butter from the scallop pan, then drizzle over the scallops. Sprinkle with some of the gremolata and garnish with the watercress.

Photo: Alex Farnum

Reprinted with permission from Cindy’s Supper Club: Meals from Around the World to Share with Family and Friends. Copyright © 2012 by Cindy Pawlcyn. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group.

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