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Polenta-Encrusted Scallops and Roasted Exotic Mushrooms

From: Chef Chris Nason, Sapphire Grill, Savannah. Yield: 24 servings.

Golden Tomato Water:

6 large gold tomatoes (about 3 lb.), chopped

3 cups chicken stock

3 heads garlic, split (skin-on)

¾ cup white wine

3 lemons, juiced (about ½ cup)

12 peppercorns

6 bay leaves

Polenta Crust:

1 cup yellow cornmeal

½ cup (2 oz.) grated Parmesan

1 bunch fresh lemon thyme leaves (about ⅓ cup)

1½ tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. cracked black pepper

½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

12 cups (about 1½ lb.) stemmed shiitake mushrooms

12 cups (about 1½ lb.) stemmed oyster mushrooms

3 cups olive oil

72 (U10) dry scallops, side muscles removed

24 sprigs fresh lemon thyme

In large pot, combine all tomato water ingredients and bring to simmer over low heat. Reduce by ⅓, until tomatoes are completely soft and broken down. Strain through fine sieve or cheesecloth; reserve liquid. Keep warm. Yield: About 6 cups.

For crust: Combine ingredients in bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined.

For each serving, to order: In small skillet, heat 1½ tsp. oil and toss 1 cup mixed mushrooms briefly to coat with oil, adding salt and pepper to taste. Place in a 400°F oven for 3-5 minutes, or until mushrooms become crispy on the edges. Remove from oven and set aside.

Rinse and pat dry 3 scallops and press each one into the polenta mixture on both sides. In a nonstick saute pan, heat 1½ tsp. oil over medium-high heat. Add scallops and sear until golden brown on each side. Plate scallops in a shallow bowl, distanced equally apart. In center of each bowl, pile the crispy mushrooms. Ladle 2 oz. tomato water into each bowl around the scallops and garnish with sprig of lemon thyme.

Note: This is a very thin sauce and is best served in a bowl.

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