Free Range Nurse

Cooking therapy from a former travel nurse

Seared Scallops with Apple Brandy Cream Sauce April 7, 2010

Filed under: dinner,seafood — freerangenurse @ 1:12 am

It’s spring here in central Texas…of course it’s spring everywhere, but I mean if feels like spring here.  The weather is absolutely beautiful.  Warm temperatures, lots of sunshine, low (for Austin) humidity and the perfect time for finding the freshest spring berries and vegetables, firing up the grill and spending time outside.  Is that what I’m doing?  Nope.  I had a craving for some decidedly fall ingredients.  Seared sea scallops with apple brandy cream sauce, wilted spinach with garlic and butternut squash risotto.  Sometimes you want what you want.  If I had to pick a favorite of the three, I would have to say the risotto was the winner.  I’ll post that recipe, too.

You may notice there are fewer pictures than usual.  Making all three items and coordinating finishing times left me little time to stop and take pictures.  This is especially true when making risotto which requires near constant stirring and scallops which overcook in less than a heartbeat.  I hope you’ll try at least one of the three recipes.

Special thanks to David Lebovitz who happened to post a blog entry on how to make clarified butter just when I needed it for this recipe.  How serendipitous!

Scallops with Apple Brandy Cream Sauce

(adapted from Bon Apetit, December 2005)


  • 1 1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1/3 cup cognac (or Calvados, if you have it)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 16-20 large sea scallops, patted dry
  • 1/2 Tbsp clarified butter
  • 1/2 cup fresh unfiltered apple juice (I used Simply Apple, which worked out fine)
  • 1 tsp chopped, fresh thyme
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 9-ounce bag spinach leaves

Heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add shallot; stir 30 seconds.  Add cognac; boil 30 seconds.  Add cream; boil 2 minutes.  Transfer sauce base to bowl.  This can be made up to two hours in advance, let stand at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.  Sprinkle scallops with salt and pepper.  Heat clarified butter in a large skillet over high heat (this works best in a stainless steel or enameled cast iron pan).  Add half of the scallops.  Cook until brown, about 2 minutes per side.  Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm.  Repeat with remaining scallops.  Add apple juice and thyme to the hot skillet.  boil one minute, scraping up brown bits.  Add sauce base and bring to a boil and boil for two minutes, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and stir 30 seconds.  Add spinach; toss until barely wilted and still bright green, about 2 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Using tongs, mound spinach in the center of each plate.  Arrange scallops on top of the spinach and spoon sauce over the scallops.

This recipe takes a bit of coordination, especially if pairing with the butternut squash risotto.  It is well worth the effort.


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