Moms. Without them we wouldn’t be here, but other than their role in birth, really where would we be? They have protected us, nurtured us, cried with us, punished us and beamed with pride over us. They never overcome the worry that we will cause them or the pain that they feel when we hurt. She is our savoir, protector, the benefactor of our life.
Over the last two years, I’ve watched with interest as the three mothers close to me have proved that mothering never ends. My daughter’s love for her son is intense; her devotion to mothering, no matter what the world has thrown her way, has been awe-inspiring. And her mother’s never-ending love and support remind me of my daughter’s childhood. Just recently her mom was talking and soothing her through a tornado warning at 4:30 a.m. as she huddled in a bathtub topped with pillows, shielding her son from potential harm. And despite fast failing health, my mother continues to worry about my future, my health, my life, even though our roles have been reversed, and I have become the parent to her.
Most who know me well understand my belief that to cook and feed someone is really a show of love. This recipe is simple and quick, yet impressive – and it’s one that you dads and kids can pull off for mom.
The recipe comes from Brian McCann, one of the fishmongers at the Durham Whole Foods Market. McCann, who fished commercially out of Wanchesse, has a special reverence for all things from the ocean. His recipe is a marriage of the rich, sweet creaminess of the scallops against a fruity foil of the sauce and the pepper bite of the arugula. While normally I don’t use cheese with seafood, the earthiness of the gorgonzola completes this dish and melds everything together. No matter what your cooking skills are, you can plate this very impressive dish, and who better to serve than a mother?
Make sure you buy dry packed scallops. They will form the crust that is an important part of this dish. Wet packs will only steam. Dry packed scallops are easy to spot – the scallops will range in color from white to taupe to a pinkish light brown. The balsamic glaze can be found in the vinegar section of most major grocery chains.
Treat your mother right: Cook for her.
Scallops with Cherry Balsamic Sauce
1/2 cup black cherry preserves
1/2 cup balsamic glaze, or 1 cup balsamic vinegar reduced to 1/2 cup
1 1/2 to 2 pounds U-10 dry pack sea scallops, side muscle removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
Arugula for serving
COMBINE the balsamic glaze or reduction with the preserves in a small saucepan. Place over medium heat and warm until the preserves have just melted, stirring to combine. Keep warm while you cook the scallops.
PLACE a cast iron skillet or heavy sauté pan over high heat. When the pan is hot, add the oil and butter. Add the scallops in a single layer and don’t crowd them. You may have to do this twice. You don’t want the scallops to steam by having too many in the pan.
COOK on one side until a nice golden brown crust develops, usually about 3-4 minutes if the pan is good and hot. Turn and cook for another minute or two. The scallops should feel like the tip of your nose when pressed. Please don’t overcook.
REMOVE from the pan to a platter and salt and pepper. Arrange the arugula on plates, divide the scallops among the plates and spoon each with the sauce. Sprinkle with the cheese and serve.
Yield: 4 servings.
Serve with: Roasted asparagus drizzled with a vinaigrette or some pan-roasted potatoes are nice, but I usually let the scallops stand alone. Buy a decadent dessert, or slice some strawberries and serve with ice cream.
To drink: I like a wine from the pinot noir grape, which mimics the fruits of the sauce. A burgundy from France will pair better with the scallops than a New World wine. That said, a sparkling wine always works for Mother’s Day.