Seared Scallops with Pinot Gris Butter Sauce

June 26, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Posted in Seafood | 49 Comments
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It’s not all buffalo burgers, elk steaks and Rocky Mountain oysters out here in the wild wild west..We can plate up an elegant dinner with the best of ’em and especially if beautiful sea scallops are available. Let’s take a look at this delicious recipe I found over at Food and Wine.

We thought this dish was spectacular. Restaurant quality, elegant and (shhhh)…pretty e-a-s-y. Serve this for a special dinner for two, or for a dinner party and your guests will think you’ve just graduated from culinary school.

First let’s address the scallops by giving my cast iron skillet a standing ovation. A few years ago when I purchased it from the Army Surplus store down on South Broadway, I never imagined it would be my most prized kitchen tool. You can throw a five-pound pork roast in this thing and it tosses back a beautifully seared piece of meat in minutes and then trust it with a most delicate sea scallop and it rewards you with a perfectly crusted cube leaving the tender meat inside juicy and sumptuous. Bravo, cast iron skillet!

 There’s no other adjective I can think of to describe this sauce other than divine. The all-star lineup of ingredients including shallots, thyme, cream, butter and Pinot Gris turn this dish into a delightful experience.  Throw in some buttery toasted pine nuts for a soft crunch to compliment the slight crunch of the sear on the scallops and you’ve got an out of this world dish. 

Make sure you have a slice of rustic Italian bread to get every single drop.

Cheers! The recipe comes from Hugh Acheson (an F&W Best New Chef 2002) of Five & Ten restaurant and Gosford Wine in Athens, Georgia. Suggested wine was a Pinot Gris from either Oregon or California. Our choice was a bottle we’ve been saving for a special meal from Noble Pig winery in the McMinnville AVA in Oregon.  Cathy’s Noble Pig blog was one of the first food blogs I started following a couple of years ago and I’ve followed her journey of completing  her degree in oenology from Davis College in California, moving her husband and two children to Oregon, and purchasing land to hone their skills as winemakers. Needless to say, when they proudly offered their first bottling, we quickly ordered 4 Pinot Noirs and 2 Pinot Gris. Cathy, your Pinot Gris tasted so good in the sauce and drinking the remainder with the meal, paired beautifully. A match made in heaven for scallops. 

Seared Scallops with Pinot Gris Butter Sauce

  • ACTIVE: 25 MIN
  1. 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  2. 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  3. 2 medium shallots, minced
  4. 2 cups Pinot Gris
  5. 2 thyme sprigs
  6. 1 cup fish stock (I used chicken stock)
  7. 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  8. 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
  9. 1 tablespoon minced chives
  10. Salt and ground pepper
  11. 1 packed cup baby spinach
  12. 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  13. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  14. 16 large sea scallops
  15. 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes (optional)
  1. In a skillet, toast the pine nuts over moderate heat until golden, 2 minutes; transfer to a plate and let cool. Lightly crush the nuts.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Add the shallots and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until browned, 4 minutes. Add the wine and thyme; boil until reduced to 1/4 cup, 15 minutes. Add the stock and boil until reduced to 1/4 cup, 9 minutes longer. Add the cream, bring to a boil and remove from the heat.
  3. Strain the wine sauce into a clean saucepan. Whisk in the butter, 4 pieces at a time, until the sauce is thickened and smooth; set the pan over low heat as necessary to help melt the butter. Stir in the chives and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.
  4. In a medium bowl, toss the spinach with the lemon juice and the remaining olive oil; season with salt and pepper.
  5. In the skillet, heat the vegetable oil. Season the scallops with salt and pepper, add to the skillet and cook over high heat, turning once, until browned but barely cooked through, 2 minutes per side. Transfer the scallops and spinach to plates. Garnish with the pine nuts and pepper flakes. Gently reheat the sauce, spoon on top and serve.

Seared Scallops with Pinot Gris Butter Sauce…It’s What’s for Dinner.



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  1. Wow. “Elegant” is right!!

    • Thanks Russ, being land locked, and with the price of scallops, this is a special meal for us.

  2. Oh my goodness…this sounds amazing. And yes, totally elegant. 🙂

  3. Those look just amazing! And that wine is making me want wine, even as I drink some on a lazy Sunday!

    • I do believe the happy hour bell is ringing and there’s a glass of wine with my name on it. Those scallops are amazing Greg. Better give the recipe a try. As always, thanks for stopping by and the comment.

  4. Great write up LA – your dish looks outstanding and the sauce just must be tried here. I like the little bloom – nice touch. Great shots, great dish, great writing – what else can I say

    • Gosh, thanks Larry! That sauce is flavor packed.

  5. That looks fantastic! I may have to make that for Zio sometime, even though I can’t have the shellfish.

    • Bummer about shellfish. Wondering if tht sauce might go well with some chicken tenders?

      • Think you might have something there… I was considering it with monkfish.

      • Ah man, I’ve had a couple bad experiences with monk fish. I need to have someone cook it for me so I can like it.

  6. There is everything I love in this dish; worthy of the price of scallops I would say. And what else I would say? Your photos have come a long way baby…VERY, very nice Lea Ann.

    • Thanks Barb and yes the price of scallops does get your attention. Yikes.

  7. What is amazing too is how light this sauce is; to try asap!

    • Light, but packed with flavor. 🙂

  8. We love scallops too Lea Ann. Your dish is indeed elegant and worthy of the finest company. Thanks for the reminder to use our trusty friend the cast iron skillet. Sometimes I forget about it.
    As always, outstanding photos. Love your little chive blossom “broom.” Very nice touch.

    • Thanks Sam. Love that you called it a “broom”. 🙂

  9. What a fun post! This is a gorgeous dish – and really elegant when it’s plated. Yum! It’s good to have a recipe like this in the arsenal. The iron skillet crusted those scallops perfectly! The photos were great and told the story quite well, down to the empty plate. 🙂 Love the “cheers” shot!

  10. I agree, this recipe went directly into the arsenal! I love that darn cast iron skillet. And I even think I somehow accidentally got it seasoned just right. Thanks for the photo and the story telling compliment. 🙂

    • Speaking of cast iron – if you don’t have a cast iron comal (griddle), I think you’d really enjoy it. Ours LIVES on the stove and is just the thing to grill bread, tortillas and toast nuts, sandwiches, etc. etc. It’s a little workhorse and small enough that it’s a cinch to keep clean. . . . I’m just sayin. 🙂

  11. That’s where I got my cast iron pots and pans as well – best selection and prices in town!

    • I need to go back and look for a dutch oven. Thanks for the beautiful scallops from the Dry Creek Store .. fabulous. Also had trout last night. I’m loving your selection and quality

  12. Soooo mouth watering! We have a Latin version that we plan to share soon. Scallops (made well) are heavenly. YUM!

    • Can-NOT wait for that recipe. I can already tell I’ll be giving it a try. 🙂

  13. All very pretty and lots of easy to follow instructions!

    Hope all is going well today


    • Thanks Dave.

      Thank God for wireless and laptops. Sure does help pass the time.

  14. I bought a cast iron skillet for the grill, but we have a glass-top stovetop and I’m afraid to use it inside. I’m assuming it will scratch, won’t it? (The stove top, not the skillet!!)

    • You’re probably right about that Steve. That thing weighs about 50 pounds. Even though I’d trust it with a scallop, not sure I’d trust it with a glass-top. 🙂

  15. You’re so right about cast iron skillets. There are some things that HAVE to be cooked in them. Scallops are one. Looks fabulous, Lea Ann, and I’m pleased to read about Cathy’s wine being such a perfect match.

    • Thanks Barbara. Too bad the Pinot Gris is already sold out.

  16. This a delicious and very elegant looking dish! I have also found the benefit of using cast iron to get a good sear on scallops and salmon. We even put a large cast-iron griddle on our grill outdoors when we do scallops and salmon when it’s nice outside.

    • Note to self: Get a cast iron grate for grill today! Thanks Susan. 🙂

  17. Great presentation! Love scallops.

    • Thanks Drew, I’m sure there’s someway to cook them on that egg! 🙂

  18. You’ve convinced me! This is a must make. I bought my own birthday gift this year and it was a cast iron skillet I have yet to use. Now I will!

    • If you treat it good, it will treat you very good.

  19. Elegant is right! These scallops look five star restaurant worthy!

    • You’ve got to give em a try Joanne

  20. That is one out of this world dish, Lea Ann. I have the same feelings and attachments to my cast iron skillet too. I couldn’t live without it. Thanks for the recommendation forNoble Pig’s Pinot Gris. Their vineyard is so close to where I live that I can almost call them neighbors.

    • As you know, Oregon is my current favorite vacation spot. Someday I hope to meet you both.

  21. One word: YUM!

    • You’ve got that right Michele. YUM

  22. That is certainly a 5-star meal! It is beautifully plated and sounds really flavorful! I need to bring out my cast iron skillet soon 😉

    • Yes you do Biren! Thanks for stopping by, I’m still reading your blog, busy and not a lot of time to leave comments.

  23. I have my handwritten notes about “perfect scallops” and they all revolve around a properly preheated cast iron pan. That is the best and easiest way to get that pretty crust you have on yours. Flawless!

    • I’m glad to hear you say that Chris. All I know is that it worked and hoped it wasn’t a fluke. 🙂

  24. I love scallops and these look fantastic — the perfect sear. The butter sauce also sounds very indulgent!

    • That butter sauce is amazing.

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