Scallops and Mushrooms In Vanilla Cream Sauce


12 large scallops, patted dry with white muscle pulled off
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 lb. chanterelles, morels, or other mushroom, cleaned and sliced
1 large shallot, finely minced
10 black peppercorns, toasted in a pan on the stove (this kills the heat of the pepper, leaving behind the fruity flavor. Toast until you get a whiff of the pepper and transfer to a cool bowl. About a minute in a hot pan)
1/4 cup cognac or high quality brandy
1 cup chardonnay
1 vanilla bean (preferably a Mexican vanilla bean)
1 1/2 cups light chicken stock
1/2 pint heavy cream
1 tablespoon light roasted fruity coffee beans, cracked with the flat of a knife
Salt and fresh pepper
Maldon salt or other large crystal salt


Heat a pan large enough to hold the mushrooms without crowding over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add 2 tablespoons of the butter. As soon as the foaming stops, add the mushrooms and immediately toss to coat them in the butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook the mushrooms until they are done and have developed some crispy edges. Set aside and keep warm.

Heat a one quart saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the 1 tablespoon of butter remaining and melt. When the foaming subsides, add the shallots and cook to soften. When the shallots begin to color, add the peppercorns and 1” of the vanilla bean. Add the brandy, stir, and cook down by 80%.

Add the chardonnay, and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and reduce the wine by 50%.

While the wine is reducing, split the vanilla bean down the length and with the tip of a knife scrape out the seeds. Add these to the wine.

When the wine has reduced by half, add the chicken stock and reduce the liquid in the pan by 75%.

Chop the vanilla bean and add it to the pot, stirring it around to cook it a bit. Add the coffee beans, stir, and add the heavy cream.

Pay attention here, we don’t want to make a mess on the stove. Bring the cream to a boil, and reduce the heat so the sauce is at a simmer and is reducing. If the sauce is cooked too far or boiled too long it might separate. When the sauce is thick and coats the back of a spoon it is ready. Taste and season with salt (very lightly) and fresh pepper. Strain into a small, clean pan and keep warm.

Heat a large non-stick pan, or regular pan that has been heated and then filmed with neutral flavored oil such as grapeseed. The pan must be large enough so the scallops are not crowded. If they are too close together they will steam and not get crisp.

Dry the scallops and season with salt and pepper. Carefully add them to the pan and sear them. When they are caramelized on one side, turn them and finish them. Remove from the pan and add the mushrooms to heat through. Make sure the sauce is warm.

Place the mushrooms on the plate, put the scallops on the mushrooms, and then use a spoon to sauce the plates.

NOTES: This dish could be served as a starter for four people or as a full meal for two people. As a starter you could put slices of toasted chewy bread to sop up the sauce along with a small salad of slightly bitter lettuces with a light vinaigrette such as sherry vinegar and hazelnut oil.

As an entrée, perhaps some roasted asparagus (perhaps with truffle oil) or fresh peas, and pasta or rice. You could also use rafts of toasted country bread for the starch, placing the toasts down as the base to the dish.

SOURCE: Recipe courtesy of Chef Andrew Cohen, Chef in Residence, Monterey Bay Certified Farmers Markets

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