Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Neal Fraser and the Best Scallop Risotto Recipe (Ever!)

Neal Fraser
As I said in my last blog I was lucky enough to attend the Los Angeles Magazine and Synder Diamond’s “In the Kitchen” with Neal Fraser (Executive Chef and Founder of BLD and Grace). “In the Kitchen” allows aspiring “home” chefs in Los Angeles to learn innovative cooking techniques, food and wine pairings, and creative menu ideas from top culinary experts. Fraser made the most luscious Sautéed Day Boat Scallop Risotto, Midnight Moon, and English Peas (and we’re all lucky enough that he offered out the recipe, it’s below so don’t change that dial!).

Along with Neal Fraser, wine expert Ian Blackburn (Founder and Wine Educator was there giving great wine advice and teaching us the ins and outs of Bubbly (specifically Domaine Caneros by Tattinger).

So with that in mind let’s get on with the Entrée of informative Factoids (God I love the Factoids…) so then we can get to the Dessert of the Risotto recipe.

Here’s Some Things You Might Not Know About Sparkling Wine….
  • You need cold to make Champagne; it’s the Northern most region of France because of this the grapes must be harvested before they are fully ripe. Thus, their sugar content is too low to make a strong alcohol (remember the little buggers eat the sugar and turn it into alcohol). For this reason Champagne has sugar artificially added to it so that the yeast can get their fill of sugar.
  • Higher Class Sparkling Wine includes a Vintage (the year that all the grapes came from). If there’s no Vintage on the bottle they use grapes from a variety of years to get a specific taste (kinda like how a French Fries taste exactly the same at every McDonalds around the country because of tiny vials of flavoring…)
  • I have always heard the smaller the bubbles the better the Sparkling. Not always true, but rest assured if there’s big bubbles in that bottle the Sparkling was probably not made in the Champagnois style and was instead it’s likely was made in huge vats.
  • If it’s made in the Champagnois style all of the mixing is done directly in the bottle, a real good bottle of the Bubbly usually gets about 5,000 hands touching it over it’s lifetime (but don’t call it promiscuous).
Here’s Some Things You Might Not Know About The Stuff That Goes Into Neal Fraser And His Risotto Recipe….
  • Make sure to buy Day Boat Scallops (which means they were harvest and landed in the same day). Many of the Scallops sold in supermarkets are preserved in a chemical that helps it keep longer (but dries it out like no other, and if you no anything about me you should know how much I hate an overcooked Scallop).
  • Scallops should be sautéed in a cast iron skillet (it holds the heat in an even balance, plus it helps the Scallops caramelize real pretty like). They shouldn’t be crowded because then they won’t become caramelized.
  • Scallops should be cooked in grapeseed oil since it has a high smoke point (when oil burns it becomes a carcinogen, Bad News Bears!). They should also be seasoned with salt and butter (for color) at the last minute otherwise it will dry them out.
  • Grace is closed at the moment, but will reopen in 2011 in downtown LA.
  • The Risotto ratio is always 1 part rice to 3 parts liquid. Neal says it should take 20 minutes from start to finish, but truthfully my dining companions and me noted it always takes us about 25-30.
Okay I know this is getting long and since I don’t want you to get your panties in a bunch here’s the AMAZING Scallop Risotto!

Sauteed Day Boat Scallop Risotto, Midnight Moon, and English Peas
  • 12 each u-10 Day Boat Maine Scallops (u-10 means under 10 in number in a pound)
  • 6 oz Butter
  • 2 oz Olive Oil
  • 4 oz frozen English Peas
  • 1 gallon Chicken Stock
  • 1 Yellow Onion Minced
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • Kosher Salt, Diamond Crystal
  • 6 oz White Wine
  • 2 oz Midnight Moon Goat Cheese
  • 1 oz Butter
They way this Recipe goes is in a bowl Sauce First, Risotto Second, Topped off with 3 Scallops. Yummm (with three Ms as my little sis would say!)

For the Sauce: Sauté 1 oz of the chopped onion and garlic (forgot to tell you to chop than above, well do it!) until translucent. Add 3 oz white wine and reduce until dry. Add 2 cups of chicken stock and cook onion/garlic mixture until soft. Add the peas, a touch of salt, and cook for 3 more minutes over a medium flame. Place all ingredients in a blender (Frazer recommends a Vitamax, “they’re the best”). Add 3 oz butter and blend until smooth. Taste for salt and add more if you need it. Strain thru a chinoise and keep warm.

For The Risotto: Heat olive oil with the remainder of chopped onion in a large enough pot to hold the risotto and the stock you are going to add. Cook onion till translucent. Season with a touch of salt. Add the rice and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the remainder of the wine and reduce until absorbed. Add 2 cups of chicken stock and cook until absorbed. Add stock one more time and cook until al dente. Finish with midnight moon, butter, and salt as needed.

For the Scallops: Heat a well-seasoned iron skillet until hot. Add grapeseed oil and place the scallops gently in the pan. Add 1 oz of butter and salt to help the scallops caramelize. When golden brown, flip over and cook for 1 more minute.

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