Dinner tonight was basically fate. The universe aligned and all of that. I, unlike every other human being I’ve ever met, greatly prefer bay scallops to their larger, more popular big brother, the sea scallop. Neither are cheap, and we really just don’t think about buying them a lot on our grad student budget. But just the other day, I was reading these articles about how Rappahannock River Oyster is trying to reestablish the bay oyster population my beloved Chesapeake Bay, prompting me to think about those sweet, delicious little guys. And then when we were in the grocery store earlier, there were ridiculously marked down [read: probably about to go bad] bay scallops just begging to be bought! Which brings us back to our fated dinner 🙂
Back before Selim & I started dating, we were coworkers and friends. Have you ever tried to make the shift from co-worker/friend to more than that? It’s hard! The entire time you’re going back and forth between, “I mean, I definitely think we like each other…” and “OMG if I’m wrong, I’m going to have to quit my job…” Luckily, we successfully made the transition! I made this dinner for Selim the first night that I was fairly sure we were having a “date” instead of a night of friends hanging out and having dinner. I was clearly trying to impress him, and this was the fanciest dish I could think of that also didn’t give away that I was trying to be fancy. (Related note, I’m glad I’m past that stage in our relationship… over-analyzing things is tiring!) I don’t necessarily think my risotto sealed the deal for me, but it’s a special dish in my head no matter what.
Bay Scallop Risotto
(The recipe originates with Michael Symon, but I personally first found it at Stirring the Pot. My recipe is adapted from what I found there.)
- 2 strips of bacon
- 1 small onion, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
- 1 cup white wine
- 4+ cups chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- Fresh ground pepper
- 1/2 lb bay scallops
- 1/2 tbsp butter
- 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Slice the bacon into small lardons. Place in a large pan over medium heat, top with 2 turns of pepper, and cook for just 1-2 minutes, until the bacon begins to release its fat.
- Now add the diced onions. Cover the pan and sweat for 3 minutes. Remove lid, add the minced garlic, and cook for another 3 minutes.
- Pour the arborio rice in with the bacon, onions, and garlic. Toast for just 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally so the rice doesn’t burn.
- Meanwhile, heat the stock. You can either keep the stock in a small pot on low on an adjacent burner or microwave it.
- Now add the wine. Lower heat of the burner to just under medium. Cook stirring almost continuously*, until all of the wine has been absorbed by the rice.
- Add the bay leaf.
- Now add the warm stock, one ladle-full at a time. Continue stirring until all is absorbed. Repeat this pattern until the rice is softened, but still slightly al dente. [This will take at least 30-45 minutes.]
- Toss the scallops into the pan, along with a double ladle-full of stock. Cover and cook for 3 minutes.
- Stir, add another double ladle-full of stock, recover, and cook another 3 minutes.
- Turn heat down to low. Remove the bay leaf. Add the butter, cheese, and another 3 turns of black pepper. Stir a few more times until the butter and cheese are well-incorporated.
- Serve with a bit more cheese on top, plus additional salt and/or pepper to taste.