Scallops with chestnuts, bacon and cauliflower cream
Scallops and cauliflower cream. Photograph: Dara mac Donaill
Cooking Time: 60 mins
- 1 small head cauliflower
- Good knob butter
- Few splashes olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 40g butter
- Small onion, peeled and very finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 150g ceps, or any fancy mushroom mix
- 150g lardons
- 150ml white wine
- 12 cooked, peeled chestnuts
- Few sprigs thyme
- 8 scallops, roe removed
Start by making the cauliflower cream. Break the cauliflower up into small florets, put these in a roasting tray, cover with foil and dot with butter and a few splashes of water. Roast – covered – at about 160 degrees/gas 3 for about 30 minutes, or until tender. You could boil them, but the flavour is much nicer when they are roasted gently, and they won’t be as waterlogged.
Process the florets in a blender with some olive oil and any juices left in the roasting tin. You may have to add a few tablespoons of water to get it to process, maybe even another knob of butter. You could add some cream if you wanted, but I don’t like the flavour to be diluted by fat. Season with salt and set aside.
You can do this the night before. To reheat, simply add a small amount of water to loosen the purée; it will evaporate as it warms up. It should be thick enough to hold its shape on the plate.
Next, make the mushroom and bacon mixture. Cook the lardons in a splash of olive oil until they are very crispy and caramelised. You can help this along by adding a pinch of brown sugar. Then transfer them to a bowl and set aside.
Using the same frying pan, heat 20 grams of butter and sweat the onion and garlic. Very finely dice the mushrooms and add to the soft onions. Add the wine, turn the heat up and reduce. Put in the chestnuts (which you can roughly chop or crumble) and put the bacon back in, along with the thyme. Cook slowly and add a little water or more wine, or even some stock. Cook it for about 30 minutes, until you have a delicious sort of mushroom compote. Season, if necessary, and set aside. Again, you can do this in advance and then just reheat.
To cook the scallops, heat up the remaining butter until it is foaming. Place the scallops on the hot pan, season lightly and let the heat and butter solids caramelise the outside of them. Turn them over and briefly cook on the other side. This should only take a couple of minutes on each side.
Ideally the mushroom mixture and cauliflower cream should be nice and hot. Plate up by making a nice bed of mushroom mix, spoon a few arty blobs of the cauliflower cream onto each plate. Place the seared scallops on each plate and serve.