Lamb and Scallops never had it so good....
Need a nice meal that isn't a chore?
It was my wife's birthday. She loved lamb "pops". The little rib chops that you get when you chop up a rack. She loves scallops, having had Digby Scallops on our honeymoon and never looked back. SO, I decided to go for it and make her birthday dinner. This is a pretty easy meal. It takes more time to do one of the sides, but you can swap that out .... if you must....
What you need:
3 Sea Scallops. no little bay scallops...and if you can score Digby Scallops, do it. They are hard to find outside of the Maritime Provinces and New England area, but for the texture alone they are to be tried. This is per person...you be the judge. If the Scallops are exceptional, you may want to go with 2 per person .... I did 3.
2 small racks of lamb. Now, most good butchers will be happy to cut the racks down for you with their saw. (that should make 8 chops, so you may want to have more racks as your budget/appetite allows).
1lb baby spinach. Most stores have this pre washed and ready to go.
Italian Herb blend. Yes, I know that using fresh herbs on absolutely every meal is "better". I also know that I didn't on this meal...and it was really good.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Don't be cheap. Get the good stuff. Don't use the good stuff to make salad dressing, but have it handy.
Butter. Real Butter. If you are not going to use butter....then only use Olive Oil. I will tell you when you have to decide in the process.
Juniper Berries. Usually you can find them dried in most spice shops.
Gin. I leave the brand up to you.
Scallops in the pan
Get those Scallops Drunk!!!
First course is the scallops. You are going to want a good pan on medium heat. Wash your scallops and pat them dry. Sprinkle with some kosher salt and fresh pepper (if you have pink pepper or green peppercorns, go for it, if not fresh black pepper is good). Add the scallops to the preheated pan one at a time making sure not to crowd. Sprinkle some more kosher salt and pepper and add 1 tsp of butter to the pan between the scallops. If you are cooking more than 3 you may need a little more butter. The scallops should be ready to turn in about 3 minutes...maybe less. Make sure to spoon the melted hot butter over them as they sear. Remove the scallops from the pan and add about a tablespoon of juniper berries to the pan and a good double shot of gin. Let this simmer for about 30 seconds and spoon over the scallops. Serve. You may want to serve the scallops over something...a bed of sauted fennel and chard, or a risotto...I served it strait up...
Lamb Pops and "oopsie" Spinach
So, quick disclaimer. This meal when made included home made mashed potatoes. I am assuming that everyone knows how to make them. They are the dreaded side dish that take the longest to make. I am not spelling out how to make them....because you may want to have something different...roasted veggies, fennel slaw,..I leave it up to you...
I have grill pans (plural) and I use them. I recommend that you do too. For this, on a 3/4 burner let the grill pan heat. Have your lamb resting at room temp while you make the scallops with a little drizzle of the good extra virgin olive oil and a dash of the Italian Herb blend. A pinch of kosher salt (or sea salt, or pink himalayan salt...it all works). Once the pan is ready...in they go, one at a time. Again, don't crowd them. These little buggers cook fast, not as fast as the scallops, but maybe 4 minutes to the first side and 2-3 to the second. Don't fuss with them. Put them on and ...I know...make the spinach!!!
What is "Oopsie" Spinach? Well, it is so called because I was supposed to be making a different side and it was so horrible I had to pull something out of the old memory...hence it has become known in our house and "oopsie" spinach. Oh, oopsie, I forgot, you better have some fresh garlic handy for this too....
Okay, a good healthy tablespoon or two of that good olive oil in a hot pan (turn the lamb now that the 2nd pan is hot). Add the fresh garlic...a good healthy tablespoon. Let it start to brown, not burn, but just toast a little and then start adding the spinach. Keep stiring so that nothing sticks. Add the entire pound of spinach...it will cook down rapidly. Once all of the spinach is cooked down you should be ready to plate.
Remember, the 2nd side in this case was mashed potatoes....but be original....go wild, get seasonal....or get the Bob Evan's Mashed potatoes at the marked and nuke them while everything is going down.
Beverages of course
So, what should you serve with this repast you may ask? Well...We had a lovely Chinon red which is from Loire, France. It is a Cabernet Franc. You can find some nice domestic Cab Franc's as well. You might want to go with a Pinot Noir, I would lean towards Firesteed, anything but the base Pinot Noir. If you are a traditionalist and don't want to only have red and want a wine with the scallops, either a Vouvray, which is again a Loire region wine, this time 100% Chenin Blanc. OR, you could have a Melbourne Sauvignon Blanc. You want a white that has some nice fruit and nice crispness but that has not been over oaked. If you must have a Chardonay go with an un oaked one.