Sea Scallops with Creamed Leek Potatoes

Are you ready to create the most romantic, fancy looking dinner that is also unbelievably foolproof? The set-up looks so eloquent, and the taste is five stars. As usual, I created a slightly altered version of this meal, omitting the arugula salad and making sauteed spinach instead. But the star of this dish really is the creamed-leek potatoes. So rich, so smooth, and super indulgent. This isn’t a meal you’ll prepare every Friday night, but save it for a special occasion and it’s sure to make the night memorable.

You can enjoy this dish at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. You can find the original recipe that I followed here, as well as listed below.

First things first, peel and chop the potatoes. I used four large yellow potatoes, but I believe I could have even used six and the potatoes would still be very rich. Like I said, this is a very indulgent dish. I was cooking for a family of six, so I doubled the amount of scallops and added the extra potatoes.

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Get the peeled and sliced potatoes into a large pot of cold water, cover the pot, and set the heat to high to boil. While those are cooking, take out the scallops so that they can reach room temperature. I had 2 dozen large fresh sea scallops, so we each had four. Although… some may have gone missing before they made it to the plate. :/

Looks like spring!

Next, chop up the leeks into thin circles. If you have never eaten leeks, they have a mild onion flavor, very similar to scallions. The thing to keep an eye out for is that leeks can have sandy residue between the layers, so it’s always a good idea to submerge them in a large bowl of cold water for about five minutes, allowing the sediment will drop to the bottom of the bowl. You don’t want to get a piece of sand in your mouth!

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Once the leeks have been soaked and you have patted them dry, warm a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat, and add the leek slices. You’ll want to cook them until they are very tender, about 10 minutes. If timed correctly, the leeks should be finished by the time the potatoes are tender as well. I set the sherry in a small pot over medium-high heat while the leeks cooked.

Once the potatoes are tender, drain the water and put the potatoes back in the pot along with the cooked leeks. Now it’s time to turn your attention to the two simple ingredients that will bring these potatoes to a whole other level. The heavy cream and butter.

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Melt the two luxurious  ingredients together over low heat, so not to burn the cream. Once the two have melted, add it to the potatoes and leeks. I sprinkled a little salt into the potato mixture as well, but no pepper. I only have black pepper, and that would have ruined the elegant presentation of this dish. You could use white pepper, though I don’t think the potatoes needed to be seasoned much.

And now, I will attempt to convince you all why investing in this next item is the best culinary decision you can ever make:

THE EMULSIFIER!!

THE EMULSIFIER!!

I use this all the time. To cream soups, to blend fruits for smoothies, and now, to mash potatoes into a smooth, velvety finish that you could only dream of. They are reasonably priced, very easy to clean, and have the power to make you feel a bit like a bad-ass in the kitchen. Even if you’re wearing a Mickey Mouse apron.

If you don’t have an emulsifier, you can use a mixer to whip the potato-leek mixture. If you’re going for the romantic presentation, you don’t want to use a traditional masher, because no matter how hard you try the potatoes will still be lumpy.

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Can you see that consistency! It’s like smooth clouds of buttery, oniony, comforting goodness. The bad news is, besides the fact that these potatoes are unbelievably rich (aka not good for you), they are also very filling, so you can’t scoop a pile of this on the plate. I couldn’t even finish my portion – regardless of how hard I tried!

Now that the potatoes are done, keep them warm while you prepare the piéce de résistance!

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SCALLOPS!

This was very simple. I warmed up a medium saute pan with about two tablespoons of olive oil. I didn’t use the butter as suggested, because I felt it wouldn’t add anything to the dish, and I was priding myself on making one semi-healthy decision with this dish.

Season the scallops on both sides with salt and pepper. I found it took about 3-4 minutes per side. You want to have a nice crust on them. When the scallops easily lift from the pan, it’s time to flip them. You can very easily overcook scallops, so keep an eye on them.

Cooking up nicely!

Cooking up nicely!

I cooked the scallops in batches of five. While these cooked, I also prepared the spinach that I made in place of the arugula salad. This was another simple addition.

In a large saute pan, add about a tablespoon of olive oil, a clove of finely minced garlic, and one 1-pound bag of spinach. It shrinks down to nothing, so don’t worry if it doesn’t all fit in the pan right away. Set the pan to medium-high heat and stir frequently. Once the spinach has wilted, add salt and pepper. I also added the zest of a lemon to the spinach. The bright freshness complemented the richness of the other ingredients nicely.

Now it’s time to plate the lovely dish.

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With a large spoon, scoop up at 1/4 cup of the potato-leek mixture. Place the scoop in the middle of the plate, then with the back of the spoon, spread the mixture out into an oval shape, just a little wider than the scallops. Then, back one side of the potato mixture with a scoop of spinach, piled higher than the potatoes, almost creating a backdrop. Choose three similar sized scallops and nestle into the potatoes. Last, dip a teaspoon into the sherry reduction, and let the reduction drip over the scallops, over the potatoes, and a little in front of the scallops. Using the teaspoon ensures that you want add too much sherry.

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Is that not beautiful?! I hope you enjoy making this meal for someone special!

Original recipe came from allears.net, and is listed below:

Ingredients:

3 Yukon gold potatoes
1 pound butter
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 leeks
Salt & pepper for seasoning
12 scallops
4 tablespoons Canola oil
2 cups sherry
1/2 cup arugula
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Method of Preparation:

Creamed Leek Potatoes 
Peel 3 Yukon potatoes and cut them into one inch cubes. Place them in a large pot of cold water and bring to a boil. In a separate pan, melt 1/2 lb. butter in 1 1/2 cups heavy cream. Separately, julienne the whites of 4 leeks and sweat them in 2 tbs. of butter and 2 tbs. of olive oil until tender.

When potatoes are fork tender, strain them out of the water. Place the potatoes in a large mixing bowl and with a hand blender begin to whip while slowly adding the cream and butter mixture until completely incorporated. Stir in leeks and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Scallops 
Take the scallops out of the fridge 30 minutes before you are ready to cook them. Season them on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large pan on the stove and add 4 tbs. of canola oil and 2 tbs. of butter. When the butter is melted put the scallops in the pan to sear, cook for 2 minutes on each side.

Sherry Sauce 
Place 2 cups of sherry in a small sauce pot on medium heat, reduce until just under a half cup is remaining.

Arugula Salad Garnish 
Toss ½ cup of arugula into a bowl and drizzle with 2 tbs. of olive oil, 1 tbs. of lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Presentation:
To plate this dish, place a spoonful of creamed leek potatoes down on the plate and drag the spoon toward yourself. Place the seared scallops directly down the middle of the potatoes. Take the tossed arugula and place small bunches on top of each scallop.

Drizzle the reduced sherry across the dish.

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