Friday, May 18, 2012

Grilled Scallops with Orange-Chile Dressing

I know Mother's Day was a few days back, but I just have to brag about the wonderful day I had with my two guys.  The only thing that would have made it better was if Matthew had been cooperative enough to take a decent picture with his Mother to preserve for posterity.  But alas, I just got another shot to add to my ever-growing photo collection of "Mommy + the tortured son."

He wasn't too great about taking a picture with Paul either.  At least it's not just me!

Anyway, Paul and Matthew were both so sweet.  I was awoken to Paul handing me a bouquet of beautiful  pink flowers and Matthew racing into the room carrying an envelope almost as big as himself:  "HERE MOM!  HEEERRRRE!"  Then, I got to enjoy some snuggle time with my little monster while Paul set to work making an elegant, scrumptious brunch of Cornmeal Pancakes with a Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote.  He even had some candied pecans and whipped cream for additional toppings.  In addition, he bought a bottle of my favorite coffee creamer to have with my morning cup of Joe.  It was so sweet, incredibly thoughtful, and delicious!

We then headed out as a family to the miniature golf course.  Paul and I had not been mini-golfing since college, but it used to be one of our favorite activities.  We were very excited to see how Matthew would take to the game.  All I can say is, thank goodness he golfed for free.

All the child wanted to do was chuck his little orange golf ball into the nearest body of water.  And the course was covered with little ponds, waterfalls, and streams.  Poor Paul was constantly fishing Matthew's golf ball, club, shoe, or hat out of the water.  And Matthew would giggle hysterically while watching his father fish out his latest victim.

"Ball in water?!?" He would repeat over and over again between guffaws.

"No water, Matthew! That's BAD!" I would reply.  Of course, he wasn't listening because, about two seconds later, we would hear the tell-tale splash of something else being tossed in.

We did manage to get him to take a couple shots.  With a little help.

Obviously, it was impossible to keep score.  The second any one of us would hit the ball, Matthew would go chase it, pick it up, and try to chuck it in the water.  This meant that as soon as Paul or I made a shot, we had to immediately dash to the other end of the course to reach it before Mr. Matthew.  Very rarely were we able to actually putt our golf balls into the holes.  Still, it was a really fun way to spend the afternoon.

Afterwards, we shared a bowl of frozen custard and then headed home for a decadent dinner of grilled scallops.  This has to be one of my favorite dishes of all time.  Paul had made it last summer and chose to prepare it for Mother's Day because he remembered how much I had loved it.  It was even better this time around - sweet, perfectly grilled scallops, crispy bacon, creamy eggs, piled high on top of a salad of mixed greens dressed lightly with a mildly spicy orange vinaigrette.  Heaven on a plate (especially when paired with a glass of my favorite Riesling!).

My husband can do amazing things with the grill.  Amazing things.

Grilled Scallops with Mixed Greens and Orange-Chile Dressing
adapted from The Cook's Illustrated Guide to Grilling and Barbecue

For the scallops:
1 1/2 pounds large sea scallops, tough tendons removed
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Salt and ground black pepper

Light a large chimney starter filled with hardwood charcoal and allow to burn until all the charcoal is covered with a layer of fine gray ash.  Spread the coals evenly over the bottom of the grill.  Set the cooking grate in place, cover the grill with the lid, and let the grate heat up, about 5 minutes.  Use a grill brush to scrape the cooking grate clean.

Meanwhile, toss the scallops and butter together.  Season with salt and pepper.  Thread the scallops onto doubled skewers so that the flat sides of the scallops will directly touch the cooking grate.  When the coals are medium-hot, the grill is ready.

Lightly dip a small wad of paper towels in some vegetable oil and wipe the cooking grate by holding the wad with long-handled tongs.  Grill the scallops, uncovered, turning the skewers once, until richly caramelized on each side and medium rare (the sides of the scallops will be firm and all but the middle third of each scallop will be opaque).  This will take about 5-7 minutes.  Serve the scallops hot or at room temperature atop the salad of mixed greens (see below).

For the vinaigrette:
3/4 cup orange juice
2 medium shallots, minced
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons mined fresh cilantro leaves
Salt and ground black pepper

Combine the orange juice, shallots, and chili powder in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.  Lower the heat to medium high and simmer until thick and syrupy, about 8 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to a heatproof mixing bowl and cool to room temperature.  Whisk in the vinegar and honey.  Slowly whisk in the oil until the dressing is smooth.  Stir in the cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the Salad:
1 package of mixed field greens
4 slices of thick-sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 hard-boiled eggs, sliced in quarters or halves
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

Toss half the vinaigrette with the salad greens.  Sprinkle the crumbled bacon, eggs, and onion slices over the salad.  Top with a skewer of scallops and drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette.  Serve!

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