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Feeling like a fancy breakfast? Trade your typical eggs benedict this Sunday morning for this twisted yet surprisingly alluring adaptation featuring seared scallops and wilted leeks in thyme butter topped with a luscious thyme hollandaise sauce.
This brunch beauty was inspired by Chef Bertrand Larcher’s masterful creation that my husband and I enjoyed during our visit to Breizh Café Crêperie in Le Marais, situated in the 3rd Arrondissement in Paris. Neighborhood dwellers and foreigners alike enjoy a simplistic menu of salads, buckwheat crêpes, and homemade cider. The chefs special composed of plump scallops sizzling in butter and jammy leeks that were perfectly nestled into a paper-thin buckwheat crêpe was divine. Now, you too can experience these flavors at home.
Dry Scallops Instead of Wet Scallops
Beware of the various types of scallops found at your local fish store. Request the dry scallops as opposed to the “wet scallops” from the fishmonger.
Wet scallops, soaked in sodium tripolyphosphate, release a fair amount of liquid and taste rather fishy. On the other hand, dry scallops develop a nice brown crust when seared and taste naturally buttery and sweet.
Press Out the Liquid to Achieve the Perfect Sear
We love that brown crust that forms atop the scallop when it is seared in oil. How do we achieve this? Here’s the trick:
- Purchase your scallops the night before you plan to cook them.
- Press the liquid out of the scallop with a paper towel.
- Store them overnight in your fridge between layers of paper towels.
These steps will leave you with very dry scallops that will sear more efficiently in your pan, leaving you with a perfect golden crust.
Waste-Less Method of Cutting Leeks
Leeks are tricky to work with, and there are multiple techniques for slicing and cleaning them. I offer a method, adopted by conscientious French cooks in the countryside, that I learned from a Chef in Paris. He advocated for this method because it produces the least amount of waste. The steps are as follows:
- Take a knife and chop off the end (white with brown threads).
- Then, use the knife to draw a circle around the first layer at the point where the leaves of the leek overlap.
- Then, remove the first layer of the leaf sheath.
- Repeat these steps with each layer of the leaf sheath until you have removed the leaves.
A Buttery Taste without the Burn
When sautéing the leeks and searing the scallops, we want that luscious buttery flavor. Hence, we add both butter and olive oil to the leeks because we love their flavors. Additionally, the presence of olive oil will prevent the butter from burning so quickly.
For the scallops, we want them to showcase a golden crust. However, butter has a relatively low (302 degrees Fahrenheit or 150 degrees Celsius) smoke point. The smoke point is the point at which a substance produces smoke. When butter smokes, it burns. So, we recommend adding a teaspoon of grapeseed oil to prevent the butter from burning rapidly and developing a burnt butter flavor.
Once you have begun the searing process by adding butter and grapeseed oil to the pan, it will start to bubble. When you see the first wisp of smoke, add your scallops to the pan. They will sear quickly. They should be relatively undisturbed while they cook on the first side. Once you flip them, baste them in the butter by pulling the pan toward you and spoon the liquid over the scallops.
What to Do with Leftover Hollandaise
If you have leftover hollandaise, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. However, when you refrigerate the sauce, it grows thicker and thicker over time. Consequently, when you pull it out of the fridge, you are left with gloppy hollandaise. To bring your hollandaise back to life (and to the consistency you desire), here’s the trick: Pour the hollandaise into a pot on the stovetop at low heat. Gently heat the sauce, then whisk in piping hot melted butter and a splash of water to thin out the sauce. In seconds you will return the sauce to its former glory.
Reheating and Storage
Store the scallops, leeks, and the hollandaise sauce in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator. The scallops and leeks can be consumed for up to 4 days. Consume hollandaise sauce for up to 2 days following storage. Warm up the scallops and leeks in the microwave for 30-40 seconds. Be careful not to overcook them. For tips regarding leftover Hollandaise sauce, visit the “What to Do with Leftover Hollandaise” section above.
Visit your local liquor store and request a bottle featuring these characteristics to find the perfect pair.
- Color: white
- Notes: stone fruit (peach, pear, nectarine), minerality, hints of honey
- Geography: old world
- Structure: clean and bright acidity
As a healthy alternative, you may skip the bread altogether. Additionally, swap the hollandaise sauce for a poached egg and let that lovely runny yolk break over the dish.
Alternately, choose a heartier bread such as a whole grain sourdough or another multigrain bread. Since multigrain bread is denser, it is essential to have a saucy component, so either the hollandaise sauce or a poached egg will work nicely.
Love your Leftovers
Extra leeks and scallops?
- Warm up the leek and scallops in the microwave for 30-40 seconds. Be careful not to overcook them.
- Fill a saucepan with water and place a saucepan on a stovetop at high heat. Add cleaned and peeled (if desired) asparagus to saucepan. Bring asparagus to boil. Remove from stovetop. Strain water and place asparagus into an ice bath or douse in cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Spoon scallop and leek mixture over a bed of steamed asparagus and drizzle of olive oil. Finish with salt, ground pepper, a squeeze of excess lemon, and garnish with fresh flatleaf parsley.
- If you have extra hollandaise sauce, skip the lemon for a drizzle of excess hollandaise sauce.
Extra hollandaise sauce?
- Poach an egg.
- Toast your favorite bread. Top toasted bread with 1-2 poached eggs.
- Spoon hollandaise sauce atop the egg(s) and garnish with flathead parsley.
- Voilà! You have eggs benedict!
Purge Your Fridge
You just finished devouring the scallop benedict, and you are left with the following ingredients:
- 90% of the bunch flatleaf parsley
- Thyme for days
- Excess leek sheaths
- 1/2 leek
- 1/2 tablespoon of butter
Get rid of these leftover ingredients with our succulent Leek, Potato, and Corn Soup.
Scallops and Leeks
- 10 dry sea scallop ensure they are dry scallops and not wet scallops, which are soaked in sodium tripolyphosphate
- 2 pieces English muffin or brioche or alternative bread
- 1 1/2 leeks sliced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp grapeseed oil
- 13 sprigs thyme
- 1 tbsp flatleaf parsley fresh, chopped
- 1/2 tsp salt
- ground pepper
Hollandaise Sauce (Optional)
- 1 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 cups cold water
- 1 tbsp lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 1 sprig thyme
- salt to taste
- ground pepper to taste
1. Strain the Liquid out of the Scallops Overnight
- Place dry sea scallops into an airtight container lined with a paper towel. Then, place a paper towel on top and press out the liquid. Store the container in the refrigerator overnight.
- On the next day, remove the sea scallops from the refrigerator. Bring sea scallops to room temperature.
- Season the scallops with salt and ground pepper.
2. Cut and Wash Leeks
- Wash and thinly slice the leeks.
- Wash them in a colander to remove the excess sand.
- Finely chop flatleaf parsley. Set aside.
3. Sauté Leeks
- Place a non-stick pan on the stovetop at medium heat. Add unsalted butter and olive oil.
- Add leeks to the bubbling butter.
- Season with thyme, salt, and ground pepper.
- Cook for 5-7 minutes or until soft and succulent.
- Remove from heat. Set aside.
4. Sear and Baste Scallops in Butter
- Place a cast-iron skillet on the stovetop at medium-high heat.
- Add unsalted butter, grapeseed oil, and thyme sprigs.
- Once the skillet is roaring hot, and the butter is bubbling, gently add the scallops to the pan.
- Sear for 1-2 minutes on either side to form a brown crust.
- Baste with thyme butter (by spooning liquid over the sea scallops) after you have flipped them.
- Remove from heat. Set aside.
5. Make the Hollandaise Sauce (Optional)
- Begin by whisking egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Add lemon juice into the mixing bowl and continue to whisk vigorously.
- Melt unsalted butter either in the microwave or on the stovetop. Set aside.
- Add cold water to a pot (or the base of a double boiler) and place it on the stovetop at medium heat. Bring to simmer.
- Place the mixing bowl (or upper pot of the double boiler) over simmering water.
- Continue to whisk. Ensure sauce does not get too hot; otherwise, the eggs may scramble.
- Drizzle the melted butter slowly into the mixing bowl. Continue to whisk.
- Whisk in thyme, sea salt, and ground pepper.
- When the hollandaise doubles in volume and generously coats the back of a spoon, it is done! Pour into another (cool temperature) bowl and set aside.
6. Let's plate
- Toast the brioche or the English muffin.
- Place the brioche or the English muffin on the plate. Spoon leeks over toast and dress with 3-4 scallops. Drizzle with hollandaise sauce. Garnish with flatleaf parsley.
- Serve and enjoy.