Scallops don’t seem to demand a strict recipe to be followed, they adapt to what the cook has on hand. Once the scallops are sauteed until brown, a flavorful acid liquid such as dry vermouth, lemon juice or white wine can be added and cooked down until it is reduced, then heavy cream added. The cream can be flavored with a wide range of spices with the most upscale being saffron. Best of all, a meal for one or many can be prepared in no time. — Nathalie Dupree
2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil and or butter
2 to 3 scallops
2 tablespoons dry white vermouth, lemon juice or dry white wine
1 teaspoon dried saffron (optional)
1/4 to 1/3 cup heavy cream per person
Freshly ground pepper
Chopped herbs (optional)
Heat a heavy pan with the oil and add the scallops, making sure they are not touching. Meanwhile add the saffron to the dry vermouth, lemon juice or dry white wine. After 2 or 3 minutes, turn the scallops to brown the second side. When the second side is cooked, remove to a dish and keep warm, or leave in the pan and add the dry vermouth and saffron and bring quickly to a boil. Boil briefly until the vermouth is about a tablespoon per person, then add the heavy cream, bring to a boil and boil until thickened. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add chopped herbs if desired.
A note on dry vermouth: I always keep a bottle of dry white Vermouth on hand as it doesn’t need refrigeration and will not turn to vinegar the way unfortified wines will. It is an ideal addition whenever white wine is called for.
Nathalie Dupree is the author of 14 cookbooks, including the James Beard award-winning “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking.”