Seared Scallops with Orzo and Lemon Vodka Sauce

>> Friday, April 26, 2013

Seared Scallops with Orzo and Lemon Vodka Sauce

A nice sale on bay scallops and a jar of vodka we infused at home with citrus peel and ginger was an excellent reason to make the creamy and slightly tart scallops with lemon vodka sauce. We like the large scallops best, but frugality wins out at dinnertime. This sauce is excellent with any kind of fish, too.

Joe seared the scallops in grapeseed oil because it has a higher smoke point (smokes less easily at high temperatures). This allowed him to brown the scallops quickly without overcooking them until they were the consistency of gobs of rubber. Canola and peanut oils are also good for high temperatures, when the old standby, olive oil, will burn.


For the Orzo

1 1/2 cups orzo
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce

Dash cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp corn starch stirred into 1 tbsp cold water
1/4 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp dill weed
2 tbsp citrus vodka
2 tsp lemon zest
1 cup half and half

For the scallops

1 tbsp grapeseed oil
2 cups bay scallops, or 10 to 12 large scallops
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
2 tbsp chives, snipped


Heat the oil in a medium pot, then brown the orzo until golden brown. Add the garlic and onion and saute for 1 minute. Pour in the chicken broth. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, until the broth is absorbed and the orzo is cooked. Keep warm until ready to serve.

In a small saucepan, stir together the sauce ingredients. Simmer 3 minutes, until thickened and well combined. Keep warm while you prepare the scallops.

Dry the scallops on paper toweling. Heat the grapeseed oil on medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the scallops and brown on all sides for 3-5 minutes; larger scallops may need a bit more time to cook. Add the garlic, and lemon juice, and simmer for 2 minutes. Do not overcook or the scallops will be tough.

To serve, spread the orzo on a platter and arrange the scallops on top. Drizzle the sauce over the scallops and sprinkle with the parsley and chives.

Serves 4.


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