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Food: Scallops and Chorizo

July 22, 2010

In every meal, sacrifices must be made. Especially the meal of an amatuer chef (me) who just wants to get it right but doesn’t yet have the sixth sense to know exactly when a steak is done, or when cupcakes are at their most moist. For this meal, the sacrifice comes in the form of one brave scallop. But first, the details.

The thing I like about the easy tapas style dish of scallops and chorizo  is that it is simultaneously impressive and effortless- once you know a few key things (remember, we’re going to have to sacrifice a scallop). The first, what type of sausage to buy. You want the prepackaged, already cooked chorizo – not dried, and not freshly made out of the butcher’s case. You’ll find the chorizo that you want in the side case at your grocery store, with the other pre-packaged sausages.  Buying this type means that you need very little cooking time (you’re really just warming it up and releasing the oils to flavor the scallops) and you get perfectly formed discs that won’t fall apart.

The second key component of this recipe is knowing how long to cook the scallops. You can use either bay (smaller) or sea (larger) scallops for this dish. The bay scallops take the least amount of time- only about 1 minute per side- but I find that they overcook very easily and can render the dish less than spectacular. Sea scallops take only a bit longer-  about 2 minutes per side, depending on the size- but are easier to gauge.  To remove any guess work, I employ the Scallop Sacrifice Strategy.  When I’m doing my shopping, I ask whoever is working the seafood counter to pick out 9 sea scallops of about the same size (4 per person plus one extra). When I get home I take one brave soldier scallop and cook it up in a non stick pan (the same pan I plan on using for the whole dish later that night) with a bit of oil, paying special attention to how long it takes. With the practice scallop you can poke, cut, or otherwise destroy it to check for doneness, something you don’t want to do when you are cooking for company and desire picture perfect results. The trial run frees you up to make a note of how long the “real” scallops should take to cook, and to be confident that your dish will be a success. (By the way, scallops should still have an almost translucent  quality to them when they are done- if you don’t like scallops, you’ve probably never had one that was properly cooked.) Once the scallops are cooked in the chorizo oil, add back the sausage, pour in the lemon juice, top with chopped parsley, and enjoy!

For two people:

1 package chorizo sausage

8 scallops (plus one)

juice of one lemon

parsley, chopped

1 medium sized non stick pan

Cut the sausage in uniform pieces, then cook until hot and browned. Spoon sausage into a bowl, leaving sausage oils still in the pan. Cook the scallops in the pan with the oils, turning only once. When scallops are almost done, return sausage to the pan with the scallops, douse with lemon juice, and sprinke parsley on top. Voila.

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