cheffed up

A Royally Sweet Meat

Ye shall not find one sweeter than scallops

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Inspired by Prince Harry's wedding to an American, I decided to make this column about scallops a bit more cheeky and use my new British accent. Problem is, I can't figure out how to transfer my magnificent, native-sounding inflection from my lips to paper. My only thought is to insert British colloquialisms in my writing whenever possible. BTW, quite a few blokes have heard me cockney accent and mistaken me for a native Londoner, they have.

Right, then, I think I'll have a go at it. I recall as a wee lad that scallops were really not my cup of tea. Small, rubbery and slightly fishy, they were. When I think back to the dishes containing these bivalves, I realize that they were likely a highly processed or frozen version of bay scallops, obvious rubbish! Leave it to the barmy colonists to botch the ruddy job of preparing scallops.

Now if you'd care to know your onions about scallops, then lend me an ear, guv'nah. Scallops are sold in three varieties: bay, sea and calico. Bay and calico are smaller in size than sea scallops and, as the name states, are harvested from bays. The difference between a common bay scallop and a calico is that a naff calico scallop must be steamed to get the bloody shell open, so they're usually sold frozen and are the cheapest. Full stop. The quality of regular bay scallops varies a great deal. Most commonly, they're processed in a chemical solution known as STP and are labeled "wet pack." This solution (not what Will Power uses) helps the scallop retain moisture and slows spoilage. The problem? The scallops will soak this solution up like a sponge, causing the flesh to get wet and mushy, and not in a smashing way like mushy peas. Blimey, that must've been the issue with the damp squib scallops of my youth.

Sea scallops can be stonking. Quite right; they're sold by the count and labeled as "wet pack" or "dry pack." Dry pack sea scallops do not contain STP, making them brilliant! With scallops as well as shrimp, the smaller the count, the larger the individual scallop. The larger the scallop, the less likely you'll over-cook them in a cack-handed fashion. Try not to drop a clanger by over-cooking these beauties. They'll cook through quicker than you can say Bob's your uncle, and they'll taste amazing over this roasted corn risotto. Give it a go-it's definitely a meal fit for Her Majesty.

Chef Bill's Roasted Corn Risotto

Ingredients

  • 1/2 med. onion, fine brunoise
  • 1 cup aborio rice
  • 2 oz. vermouth, or white wine
  • 2 cups corn stock or vegetable stock
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 ear yellow corn, roasted
  • 1/2 roasted poblano
  • Whole butter, in cubes
  • Compté cheese or any grana style cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

1. Slowly sweat the onions, add rice, toast.

2. Add the vermouth to just the top of rice. Simmer to absorb.

3. Begin seasoning with salt and pepper. Mix the stocks, heat to a boil and add enough to cover by 2 inches. Do not lose the simmer. Stir occasionally, don't allow to dry out or stick. Add a second addition of stock to cover by 2 inches. Stir. Continue to season.

4. When stock is absorbed, check the doneness of the rice—it should be al dente. If too hard, add more stock. Fold in the corn and poblanos.

5. Add whole butter and cheese, taste, adjust seasoning.

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Email Chef Bill Thompson, owner of Fernandina's Amelia Island Culinary Academy, for inspiration and to get Cheffed-Up! 

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