Scallop and Squash Bisque

What’s for dinner? Well, this week it’s not beef. We’re having scallops in a bisque. Wait? A what? Isn’t that just soup? Why is there cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and maple syrup in the ingredient list?  This is looking like some weird breakfast. I thought a lot of these things when I went to put together this weeks dinner. 

Keeping with my seasonal fall dishes I wanted to continue to showcase the butternut squash. So when I came across this recipe, the picture looked yummy, so I wrote down the name and the source on my “master recipe list” and put it on my calendar to make this week.

So, last Friday I sat down to work on my grocery list. I then stated panicking because I couldn’t find the recipe. I looked on Finecooking.com and nothing! I looked on Cuisineathome.com and nothing! Then I started digging through cookbooks looking for any that might have had the recipe. Hey, wait, that looks good, no I am looking for a specific recipe stop getting sidetracked. Now, where is that recipe? Shoot! I think I am going to have to find something entirely new to make next week! Darn, that scallop dish sounded so good. Oh, well, let me go to all “recipe list” and see if there’s anything. Hey! There’s the recipe for the scallop and squash bisque! Why didn’t I look there first! Ok, back to that.

Hmm, what’s involved. Wait? Cinnamon? Nutmeg? Allspice? and I am to dip the scallops in it? OK, I am not to sure about this dish anymore. C’est la vie… So I went about making my list. Wait, calms have feet? and I am to remove them??? Never mind, just keep making the list. Don’t question it. Eight cups of butternut squash? What is that? One? Two? How many pounds? Didn’t I just tell myself to stop questioning the recipe? Ew! Two whole bottles of clam juice? Ok, the list is made…

After all the fun we went up to the St.Paul Farmers Market and then over to Coastal Seafood. While we were at the seafood shop I asked the lady about the scallop feet and she assured me it would be no big deal and then was even sweet enough to demonstrate for me just how easy it was to remove the feet. (Just to put your mind at ease they are not actually feet. They are an additional muscle muscle.)

Finally it’s time to make dinner. First step, lay out all the ingredients. So I have to say that I know a lot of people that have to cook with the fewest ingredients they can or they won’t make a dish. That’s just silly. If an ingredient can in hanse the dinner why not use it. From what I can tell it’s either that they are trying to minimize dishes or they get easily flustered trying to find them all while they are cooking. This is why you lay everything out at the beginning! Even better measure and prep everything while you’re at it.

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So, I have to say as I said at the beginning, I was skeptical but I made my spice mixture. I patted dry the scallops and removed the feet. Hey! That was supper easy. Then I dipped the scallops in the spices.

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I then sautéed the pancetta and removed it from the pan. Then you take your scallops and sear them for 2 minutes on each side and then set them aside. These are the jumbo scallops not the small ones. Next, I added the onion, sage, red pepper flakes and garlic and sautéed them in the pancetta fat. Then I used a white wine to deglaze the pan. This may sound all fancy but all you do is pour wine into a pan that has burnt stuff all over the bottom and with a wooden spoon start scraping it all up as the wine heats up. Think of it as making clean up easier! There won’t be any scrubbing.

Once most of the wine cooks off you add the squash. Oh, I was going to mention that I used a four-cup measure and filled it with my diced squash and weighed it. So now I know how much I need in the future. Turns out that 8 cups is about 2 pounds 12 ounces. Another good things I learned was that the skin and the guts weigh about a pound. So when buying squash I need them to come close to 4 pounds.

Then in goes the whole bottle of clam juice. It wanted 2 but that sounded gross to me so instead I did one 8-ounce bottle. I then added a can of home made chicken stock. It called for 16 ounces but it was more like 13 ounces and then to make up the difference of the second bottle of clam juice and the 3 ounces of chicken stock I used a tub of fish stock I bought from the fish monger. I needed 11 ounces but it was more like 14 ounces so I just put it all in too. Then simmer for 20 minutes.

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Why is it recipes say simmer for 20 minutes? They never indicate when you pour in 32 ounces of room temp liquid how long it’s going to take to get it to a boil so you can then turn it down to simmer. I think that added about another 20 minutes to my cooking time.

Then in goes the bisque into the blender and purée till smooth and then stir in the cream. (Don’t worry it’s only 2 ounces out of the 70 ounces of bisque.) Now to put it all together. I ladled the bisque into the bowls, I added the room temp scallops that had been resting, sprinkle the fried pancetta around the scallops, I garnished with some fried sage leaves, and then a small drizzle of maple syrup.

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WOW! What a dish! Looks amazing and tastes even better! My husband actually licked his bowl clean! The spices on the scallops were the perfect accent to the bisque. This is definitely going in the “repeat” category!

Oh, what is bisque? Well as it turns out it’s a shellfish stock that is typically thickened by cooking rice in it and then blending it smooth seafood shells and all. What sets bisque apart from soup. It’s the use of the wine and the cream. Call it soup or call it bisque either way this is going down as a winner! The recipe comes from Cuisine at Home, October 2010 issue. If you want access to their back issues sign up online and for a small fee you can have access to their entire library of issues!

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