By Angela Denstad Stigeler
As February’s frills start to appear, here’s a seductive little menu item to help put you in the mood for the month’s romantic meals. Sea scallops—those pearly white rounds of shellfish brought up from the deep—always lend a bit of mystery and delight. When you decorate them with a ruffled edge of smoky bacon, they’re sure to prove irresistible. To add even more intrigue to this elegant hors d’oeuvre, try serving the scallops with just a touch of homemade tarragon mustard. Its surprising flash of heat and spice play nicely alongside the bold bacon and sweet, delicate shellfish.
This is meant as a first course, and with its ease of preparation and quick last-minute cooking, it’s quite possible to have these at-the-ready, while still preparing a more elaborate main dish. But since they’re so satisfying, if you wanted to serve them with a mixed green salad and then go straight to dessert, you’d likely receive no complaints. Whether you serve them to your sweetheart or a whole crowd, you can love the fact that scallops are an excellent source of nutrients especially good for heart health. So even with the splurge of bacon as the scallop’s scalloped edge, you’ll find they’re a valentine dish to dive for.
Bacon-wrapped Sea Scallops with Tarragon Mustard
1/3 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/3 cup white wine
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
2 sprigs fresh tarragon or 1 tablespoon dried
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 pound jumbo sea scallops (10/20 per pound)
1 pound bacon
Combine the mustard seeds, white wine, wine vinegar, tarragon, salt and pepper in a small non-reactive bowl. Cover and let soak several hours or overnight. Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree to desired consistency. The mustard may be processed until smooth or left grainy and will keep for several weeks.
Precook the bacon, either in a skillet over moderate heat, or in a 350-degree oven, until it is mostly cooked through, but still quite flexible. When the bacon is just cool enough to handle, wrap one piece tightly around each scallop, securing with a toothpick. Place the wrapped scallops on a broiler-safe baking sheet. The scallops can be prepared in advance to this point and held until just before serving.
When ready, preheat the broiler and place the scallops under the heat until just cooked through, about 6 minutes. They should feel fairly firm, be opaque throughout and the bacon should be crispy. Serve hot with the tarragon mustard.