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Seared scallop and wild mushroom risotto

Delectably sweet, buttery and tender. This is what makes the scallop extremely versatile and while it pairs beautifully with light zesty flavours, its easy going nature also lends itself perfectly to heartier winter pairings.

Serves 4 - 6

Ingredients

Broth
2 brown onions, peeled and roughly chopped
1 leek, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
30g dried porcini or morel
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon peppercorns
400g portobello mushrooms, wiped and sliced
8 sprigs parsley
2 bay leaves
5 sprigs thyme
1kg smoked pork bones
2.2L water

Risotto
20 scallops
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to season
4 tablespoons butter
400g mixed mushrooms, brushed and sliced
2 golden shallots, very finely diced
2 cups Arborio rice
80g pancetta, finely diced
250ml full bodied white wine (a creamy chardonnay works well)
5g tarragon leaves, finely chopped
60g finely grated parmesan Reggiano
Micro chervil, to garnish

Risotto-square.jpg

Method

For the smoky bacon and mushroom broth. Heat a cup of water in a medium saucepan add the onions, leek, celery, porcini, salt and peppercorns, cooking gently for 6-7 minutes, until the vegetables have softened and the mushrooms are plump. Add the remaining ingredients, bring to the boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour, until you have a richly flavoured smoky broth. Strain and return to the pan, you should have 1.5L of stock.

For the risotto. Pat the scallops with paper towel and put into a bowl with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, toss and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a Dutch oven or risotto pan (high sided skillet), melt 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil, add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook until all the liquid released has evaporated and the mushrooms are slightly golden. Remove from the pan and set aside. Next add the final tablespoon of olive oil and the shallots, sauté for 2 minutes until they soften. Add the rice and the pancetta, sauté while stirring for a couple of minutes until the rice is translucent. Pour over the wine and cook until it has almost evaporated. Then begin to add the hot broth, just enough to slightly cover the rice, stirring almost constantly. As each addition of broth is nearly absorbed, repeat the process, continue this for about 15 minutes. Stir half the mushrooms into the rice, adding smaller amounts of broth at this stage. Simmer gently, stirring often for a further 5 minutes.

During this final 5 minutes, sauté the scallops, heat a caste-iron or similar heavy based pan over a medium high heat. Add the scallops, cook until golden on both sides, about 4 minutes. Re-heat the reserved mushrooms.

When the risotto is ready the rice will still have a slight bite to centre. Stir in the remaining butter, tarragon and parmesan. Cover for a minute or two, the risotto should have a creamy consistency not too thick, it should spread slightly when plated but still hold together (i.e. the sauce and rice should be homogenous and not separate). Serve into shallow bowls or a single shared plate, topped with the seared scallops, mushrooms, micro chervil, some extra parmesan (if desired) and a generous grind of fresh black pepper.

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