Seared Scallops with Balsamic Bacon Jam – this new twist on surf-n-turf makes for a great one-bite appetizer.
Seared scallops with bacon jam. Decadent. Fancy. Maybe arguably a little boujee. But, you know, in a good way.
Start with really good ingredients.
When you make the scallops the star of the show as they are in this recipe, quality is imperative. You absolutely need to make sure they are fresh, and preferably ‘dry’. Some scallops are sold in a wet solution, and it’s nearly impossible to get a great sear on them. I have used phenomenal scallops from Fulton Fish Market, who can overnight premium seafood around the country. Smart choice.
Use the right pan to get a good sear.
Adios, non-stick. You will never get the sear you are looking for using a non-stick skillet. To get a great crust, make sure you’re using a cast iron, stainless steel or carbon steel pan. It’s also recommended to use a high heat neutral flavored oil like grapeseed, but olive oil will do in a pinch.
This recipe is a great holiday appetizer. Here’s why:
If you are a serious cook who also likes entertaining, you probably appreciate being organized. Think about it – timing a dish, having all the ingredients, meticulously following the recipe – all hallmarks of someone who loves structure. If this is you, then here’s an extra reason to love this recipe (beyond just the taste) – it’s a SMART additional appetizer. You can have the bacon jam ready in advance, and the scallops take mere minutes to cook. Meaning – this is a GREAT recipe to add to a holiday menu! Instead of feeling that you’ve got a million complicated things to execute at once; cook smarter, not harder. If you do make the bacon jam ahead, just warm it slightly before serving for optimum jam consistency.
This recipe makes enough bacon jam for leftovers…
Unless you’re planning to sear enough scallops to feed a football team, you’ll probably have a cup or so of leftover bacon jam. No one in the history of ever was upset about this. You can use it in other dishes, spread it on toast and have it with eggs, or just cook up more scallops.Print
Seared Scallops with Balsamic Bacon Jam
14–16 dry scallops
1 lb bacon, chopped
1 onion, diced
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2–3 tablespoons oil
chopped chives for garnish (optional)
- Start by making the bacon jam. It can be made up to a week in advance, and warmed slightly before use.
- Place the chopped bacon in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until rendered and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove it from the pan and set it aside to drain on a paper towel. Discard all but 1-2 tablespoons of bacon grease from the pan.
- Add the diced onion to the hot bacon grease, and cook until softened and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar, sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Add in the cooked bacon pieces.
- Cook and reduce the mixture until the syrup is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Place the mixture in a blender or food processor along with the honey, and blend for a jammy consistency. Store in a jar in the fridge if making in advance.
- Place a pan over high heat and add the oil. Wait until the pan is VERY hot to add the scallops.
- While the pan is heating, pat the scallops dry on both sides with a paper towel, then season lightly on both sides with salt.
- Place the scallops into the hot pan, and leave them undisturbed for two minutes. It’s important not to move them to allow the crust to develop. Flip the scallops over and cook a further two minutes on the other side. NOTE: If you are using scallops any smaller than 1″ in diameter, reduce cook time to one minute per side. If you are still not getting the crust you are looking for – your scallops were too wet or your pan was not hot enough.
- Remove the scallops from the pan to a serving platter. Top with some of the bacon jam and a pinch of chopped chives, serve immediately.