I think the best part of all of the experimenting we are doing in the kitchen is that we are learning so much about what works and what doesn't. This meal was a good example. We tried caramelizing these amazing fresh jumbo scallops to look like the scrumptious looking scallops in the pictures on Annie's Eats website where I found the recipe (originally from Cristina Ferrare's Big Bowl of Love). Unfortunately ours didn't look quite so fancy and didn't caramelize properly. Nonetheless, they still they tasted good. It's a wonder what fresh ingredients can do. Even if you mess up, a simply seared piece of fresh fish will taste delicious.
I think where we went wrong is that we didn't get the scallops into the pan fast enough meaning that the sugar seemed to absorb into the scallops and didn't leave much of a coating to create the caramelized part. The instructions say to work quickly to get the sugar on the scallops and into the hot pan. We got somewhat thrown off by the timing of getting everything together, and the scallops didn't get in the pan as quickly as they should have. Timing all of our food to finish at the same time is definitely a skill we still need to work on.
Reading the recipe, it called for clarifying butter, something I had never done. I thought about skipping that step and just using plain melted butter, but when I find out how easy clarifying the butter was, I decided we should give it ago. We clarified the butter by melting a few tablespoons in a saucepan. Once the butter had formed a layer of foam and milk solids on the top, we used a ladle and skimmed it all of leaving only the clear, yellow butterfat.
We heated the butterfat in pan and once foam had formed we the scallops, seasoned with a little salt and pepper and covered in a layer of sugar in the pan. I think it is really important to get the scallops into the pan at this point as the recipe states. We cooked the scallops for about three minutes and flipped them over, cooking them for another minute. Then we added a mixture of about 1/2 cup of a dry white wine and the juice from a lemon to the pan and cooked the scallops another two minutes. We cooked the scallops a little longer than the recipe called for because they were so enormous, and this strategy definitely worked for us.
As recommended, we sprinkled lemon zest, some chopped scallions, and a few leaves of parsley on top as a garnish along with some of the extra lemony butter/wine sauce.
We served these scallops with a side of pan-seared asparagus drizzled with balsamic vinegar and the rest of the white wine used to cook the scallops. These scallops weren't quite the dish we were expecting, but they actually cooked perfectly and next time we know what change to make that will hopefully perfect the dish.