We all know at this stage about my obsession with corn and all the sweetness it can bring to a meal. It is the height of corn season in New England and those beautiful cobs are overflowing from baskets at every market. Last weekend, in the search for a new way to use it up, I gave this corn risotto a go. It was delicious as it was but when we had visitors planned for this week, I decided to up the ante. Enter scallops!
Sweet and juicy scallops from New Bedford, MA were the perfect accompaniment to to the creamy corn risotto and I topped the whole lot with a caramelised bacon crumb. Ive spoken before about the importance of sourcing your seafood from a good fishmongers – they will do the work for you and take any stress out of buying fish. I buy most of my fish here at Reds Best Seafood at Boston Public Market. They can tell you where every clam, fillet of fish and lobster came from, down to the name of vessels and fisherman.
The same is true of all ingredients – try and source your produce when it is in the height of its season and in truth, if you keep dishes simple, they will speak for themselves. Buying from farmers markets, farm stands and direct from farmers in CSAs can make a difference in the quality of produce as well as allow you to contribute to your local agricultural economy.
The risotto itself is a fairly simple one and the only chore is having to stand over a pot and stir, although I find this very therapeutic. The risotto can be made with vegetarian stock and served on its own as a vegetarian main course. This is a delicious dish and is great with a crisp fresh glass of Chablis on a hot summer evening! Let me know if you give it a go, its one of my favorite dishes in a while so I would love to hear what others think.
Seared Scallops and Corn Risotto with Candied Bacon Crumb
For the scallops:
- 12-16 decent sized scallops, sliced in half if they are very thick
- 2 tablespoons of butter
For the risotto
- 1.5L good chicken stock (or veggie stock if you want to make a veggie risotto)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 leek, white part only – sliced
- 250g risotto rice – Arborio or carnaroli are my favorites.
- 120ml good white wine
- Corn from 2 ears of corn or approx 200g frozen corn
- 60ml cream
- Spring onion, finely sliced for garnish (optional)
For the candied bacon crumb
- 4-6 slices of streaky or back bacon
- 3 Tbsp brown sugar
- First make the bacon crumb – Preheat an oven to 180C/350F. Dip the bacon slices in the brown sugar and coat well. Lay slices on a baking tray. Bake in the oven for 10-15 mins until caramelized and fully cooked. Cool o a cooling rack until they have crisped up fully then blitz in a food processor into crumb or chop finely. Set aside for later.
- Prep the scallops by laying them on kitchen paper or a clean towel, dry well and set aside.
- For the risotto, melt the butter in a deep saucepan or casserole dish. Add the leeks and stir well to coat in butter. Sauté for a few minutes until the leek is soft. You may need to add a splash of water to prevent sticking. Season with salt and pepper at this point.
- In a separate saucepan, heat the chicken stock to just below boiling point.
- When the leek is cooked, stir in the rice and allow to cook for a minute. Stir in the white wine and cook until this has all evaporated.
- Now start adding the stock, a ladleful at a time. Add one ladle, stir well until all the liquid has been almost absorbed and then add the next.
- Heat a large frying pan slowly over a medium heat for the scallops. Heat the pan slowly an then turn up the heat.
- When you have added half of the stock, stir in the corn to the risotto mixture.
- Continue to add the stock to the risotto until you have a rich creamy pot but ensure the rice still has a little bite to it. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Stir in the cream. Put a lid on the pot and allow to stand for 5 mins while cooking the scallops
- Now melt the butter in the frying pan for the scallops. Season them gently. Sprinkle a tiny splash of water in the frying pan – if it sizzles quickly, the pan is hot enough.
- Place the scallops in the pan with the butter. Cook MAX 1-2 minutes per side as there is nothing worse than rubbery scallops!
- Plate everything up together, either on individual plates or on a big platter like I have used above. Sprinkle with the bacon crumb and the sliced spring onion. Serve immediately.