Sea Scallops With Polenta
A bed of polenta, made with fish stock and white wine, holds four sea scallops seared and flamed with cognac. Large sea scallops make a more impressive presentation, but no matter what size you find at the market, this will be a lovely entrée.
- Sea Scallops - 32 medium or 12 large (about 1-3/4 pounds)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Unsalted Butter - 2 tablespoons
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 3 tablespoons, divided
- Cloves Garlic - 3, minced
- Parsley - 6 tablespoons, chopped, divided
- Tomato - 1 cup, diced, divided
- Cognac - 2 tablespoons (alt. brandy)
- Dry French bread crumbs - 1/4 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 2 tablespoons, cut into small bits
- Fish Stock (see Basics) - 2 cups, bottled clam juice, or chicken stock
- Dry white wine - 1/2 cup (alt. dry vermouth)
- Yellow Corn Meal - 3/4 cup (alt. quick-cooking polenta)
Rinse scallops and pat dry; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Heat butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add half of scallops in one layer and sear 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and sear remaining scallops. Return all scallops to pan. Add garlic, 3 tablespoons of the parsley, and 1/2 cup of the tomato. Add cognac; carefully ignite with a long match or barbecue starter. Shake skillet until flames subside. Sprinkle bread crumbs over scallops and top each with a few bits of butter. Simmer over low heat 3 minutes or until scallops are opaque in center, turning once. Heat the broiler to high and brown the tops of the scallops under the broiler, about 30 seconds.
In a large saucepan, bring fish stock and wine to a boil. Slowly stir in corn meal; reduce heat to low and whisk constantly until polenta is very thick, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
To serve: Spoon polenta in center of four serving plates. Spoon scallops with pan juices over polenta. Drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil around edges of plates; sprinkle remaining 3 tablespoons parsley and 1/2 cup chopped tomato over oil.