Butter-Poached Scallops on Celeriac Purée with Meyer Lemon Nage and Lemon Confit

 

Ingredients

From Rovers: Recipes from Seattle's Chef in the Hat by Thierry Rautureau and Cynthia Nims (Ten Speed Press, 2005). © 2005 by Thierry Rautureau and Cynthia Nims. Used with permission.

Makes 4 servings

Poaching in butter is a technique most often used to cook fish and shellfish gently, resulting in an elegant flavor and a silky texture. That richness is tempered here by the bright citrus flavor of Meyer lemon juice. If you are unable to find Meyer lemons, which are available during winter months, you can use regular lemons. In place of the lemon confit, you could instead use preserved lemon and cut it into thin slices for the garnish.

Also known as celery root, celeriac offers a sweet, nutty flavor and a delicate echo of branch celery's distinctive flavor. Be sure to peel the root fully, not only the thin outer skin but also the slightly woody, tough layer just below.

Do your best to buy dry-pack scallops from your fishmonger; they have not been treated with additives to keep them extra plump (which alters the flavor and texture of the scallop).

  • 12 large sea scallops, dry-packed
  • Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Lemon Confit

  • 1 Meyer lemon or large regular lemon
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

Celeriac Purée

  • 1 celeriac (about 1-1/4 pounds)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons crËme fraÓche, homemade (recipe follows) or store-bought, or heavy cream
  • Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Butter Poaching Liquid

  • 3 Meyer lemons or large regular lemons
  • 1/2 cup Lobster Stock (recipe follows)
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Garnish

  • Minced fresh chives
  • Shrimp roe

For the lemon confit, trim the ends from the lemon just to the flesh; reserve the ends for cooking the celeriac and cut the lemon into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Combine the water, sugar, and vinegar in a large sauté pan or skillet. Bring just to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to help the sugar dissolve. Add the lemon slices to the pan in an even layer, overlapping the slices as little as possible. Decrease the heat to very low; it's important that the liquid not boil or the lemon will fall apart. If your stove won't hold a very low temperature, transfer the pan to an oven set at 170°F, covering the lemon slices with a piece of parchment paper to avoid drying out. Gently cook the lemon slices until the rind is translucent and very tender, 2 to 3 hours. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool, then transfer the slices to a plate and set aside. (The confit can be made up to 4 days in advance).

For the celeriac purée, trim the stalk end from the celeriac and peel it with a paring knife. Cut the celeriac into quarters, then crosswise into 2-inch pieces. Fill a large saucepan with salted water and add the celeriac and lemon trimmings from the lemon confit (this will help keep the celeriac white as it cooks). Fold a damp, clean kitchen towel into quarters and lay it directly over the celeriac so that it remains fully submerged in the liquid during cooking. (Alternatively, you can top the celeriac with a small heatproof plate to weight it down.) Bring the water just to a boil over medium-high heat, then decrease the heat to medium and simmer gently until the celeriac is tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 40 to 45 minutes. The liquid should not boil; reduce the heat to medium-low if needed.

Carefully remove the towel with tongs or a large wooden spoon and rinse it well under cold running water, twisting it to remove the excess water; set the towel aside. Drain the celeriac in a colander and let it cool. Transfer the celeriac to the center of the towel, draw the edges of the towel up around the celeriac, and twist firmly, pressing it down into the colander to add extra pressure and remove as much excess liquid as possible. Combine the butter and crème fraîche in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil over medium-high heat, then remove the pan from the heat. Put the celeriac in a food processor, pulse a few times, then add the warm butter-crème fraîche mixture and puree until very smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper and transfer the purée to a small saucepan; set aside.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 170°F.

To prepare the butter poaching liquid, section 2 of the Meyer lemons, reserve the trimmings and squeeze the juice from the third lemon. Put the lobster stock in a sautÈ pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil to reduce the liquid by one-third, then reduce the heat to medium and gradually whisk in the butter so that it melts creamily into the stock. Add 2 teaspoons of the Meyer lemon juice with a pinch of salt and pepper. Reheat the celeriac puree over medium-low heat while cooking the scallops.

Season the scallops lightly with salt and pepper, then add them to the butter poaching liquid. Cook over medium-low heat until the scallops are evenly opaque on the surface but still translucent in the center, with a texture that is firm on the outside but still springy when pressed, about 5 minutes; make sure that the liquid doesn't overheat and boil. If the scallops are not fully submerged in the poaching liquid, turn them once or twice while they cook. With tongs or a slotted spoon, lift out the scallops, put on an ovenproof plate, and keep warm in the oven. Add the Meyer lemon sections and any remaining juice to the poaching liquid and gently warm over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt or pepper if necessary.

To serve, lay 2 or 3 lemon-confit slices in the center of warm plates, slightly overlapping them. Form the celeriac puree into 4 large quenelles and set one atop the lemon confit on each plate. Cut the scallops horizontally in half and arrange them around the celeriac, leaning them up against the puree. Spoon the Meyer lemon butter sauce over the scallops and celeriac, arranging the lemon segments around the outer edge. Sprinkle chives over the celeriac and top the scallops with tiny pinches of shrimp roe.


Crème Fraîche

From Rovers: Recipes from Seattle's Chef in the Hat by Thierry Rautureau and Cynthia Nims (Ten Speed Press, 2005). © 2005 by Thierry Rautureau and Cynthia Nims. Used with permission.

Makes about 1 quart

Créme fraîche adds a distinctive tangy richness to sauces, soups, and toppings that regular heavy cream can't. Although you can find crème fraîche in the dairy case of many well-stocked grocery stores, it is very easy to make at home and keeps well for a few weeks. You can halve this recipe if you like.

  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk

Heat the cream in a saucepan until it reaches 85°F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the buttermilk. Pour the mixture into a nonmetallic vessel, such as a glass or ceramic bowl. Cover the bowl with cheesecloth or a thin clean kitchen towel and let sit at room temperature (ideally in a warm spot in the kitchen, such as near the stove) until the crème fraîche is well thickened, about 24 hours. To see whether the crËme fraÓche has thickened sufficiently, plunge a spoon into the center; it should stand up on its own. If the kitchen is on the cool side, it might take up to 48 hours for the crËme fraÓche to thicken properly. Once it has set, skim away the thin skin that has formed on the surface and spoon most of the crème fraîche into a clean bowl, discarding the liquid whey at the bottom. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.


Lobster Stock

From Rovers: Recipes from Seattle's Chef in the Hat by Thierry Rautureau and Cynthia Nims (Ten Speed Press, 2005). © 2005 by Thierry Rautureau and Cynthia Nims. Used with permission.

Makes about 2 quarts

Lobster is a common ingredient on the menu at Rover's, so we always have plenty of shells for making stock. Rather than buying 4 lobsters just to make this aromatic stock, save the shells when cooking 1 or 2 lobsters for another dish, and freeze them in an airtight freezer bag until you have accumulated enough to make stock. If you have limited freezer space, first coarsely chop or crush the shells to make them less bulky. For an even more deep-flavored stock, ideal for rich dishes such as lobster bisque, we sometimes first roast the shells with the onion, celery, and fennel. You can do the same, if you like, by tossing the ingredients in a roasting pan and roasting at 375°F until aromatic, 15 to 20 minutes, before proceeding with the recipe.

  • 4 live lobsters (about 1-1/2 pounds each)
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 4 to 5 thyme sprigs
  • 4 to 5 parsley sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves, preferably fresh, partly torn
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns

Cook the lobster and pick the meat from the shells; save the meat for another use. Split the head and clean it well under cold running water, discarding the head sac.

Trim the stalks from the fennel bulb and discard, reserving some of the tender fennel fronds for garnish. Halve the fennel bulbs lengthwise and cut out the tough core. Separate the layers of fennel, trimming away any tough or browned portions, then coarsely chop the fennel.

Coarsely crush the lobster shells by putting them in a large deep bowl and pounding them with the blunt end of a rolling pin or the bottom of a small pot. (Breaking up the shells before cooking allows a maximum of flavor to be extracted from them.) Put the shells in a large stockpot. Add the onion, celery, fennel and enough cold water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, using a spoon to skim off the scum that rises to the surface. Add the thyme sprigs, parsley sprigs, bay leaves, and peppercorns, then decrease the heat to medium-low and gently simmer the stock until it is flavorful and quite aromatic, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Remove the pot from the heat and let the stock cool slightly. Carefully pour the stock through a sieve lined with a double layer of cheesecloth into a large bowl, discarding the shells and other solids. Fill the sink about one-fourth full with cold water and plenty of ice cubes, then set the bowl of stock in the ice water. This will help chill the stock quickly so it can be refrigerated as soon as possible. The stock can be used right away or refrigerated to use within 3 to 5 days. For longer storage, freeze it in small containers for up to 2 months.

Instructions

 
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Main Dishes

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