Monday, February 13, 2012

A nage to remember

©2012,  Lori Korleski Richardson
Nage isn't a word we use much, even among dedicated cooks. It is a French word that means "swimming," and is used to describe a dish served in a soupy sauce.

For my birthday this year, my dear husband - who before he met me was considered a gourmet bachelor cook - took over the kitchen for an afternoon and made me a version of this dish. He substituted haricots verts for sugar snap peas, a wild mushroom mixture for the chanterelles, and he skipped the baby squash.

There's a saying popular among cooks: "Never go to a restaurant for a meal that's not significantly better than what you make at home." It's no wonder we don't eat out more often.

And I must say, my birthday dinner was better than the meals at any of the restaurants that we tried for Restaurant Week, although the one at Ten came very close.

Jim found this recipe in "Terra: Cooking from the Heart of Napa Valley" (Ten Speed Press, 2000, 256 pages) by Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani. We've eaten at cozy Terra several times, but have never ordered this dish.

If this seems like way too much work (not everyone has a whole afternoon to prepare a dinner), or you don't care for scallops, I'll be posting my simplified version of this recipe, made in less than 30 minutes with chicken breasts, later this week.

Sautéed Maine Scallops on Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Chanterelle Mushrooms and Parsley Nage
Serves 4
Typed in by Lori Korleski Richardson
For the nage
2 teaspoons minced shallots
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, stemmed
1/2 cup packed spinach leaves
2/3 cup chicken stock
Pinch of minced garlic
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 1/2 ounces chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and cut or torn into bite-size pieces

For the rest
3 tablespoons clarified butter
20 ounces large scallops, cleaned (hinge removed)
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 peeled young thin carrots, tops trimmed to 1/2 inch and blanched
4 baby yellow squash, blanched
12 sugar snap peas, blanched
2 cups hot garlic mashed potatoes (recipe)
4 sprigs parsley, for garnish

To start the nage, combine the shallots and wine in a small, heavy, nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced to 2 tablespoons. Add the cream and return just to a boil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the parsley and spinach, and blanch for 10 seconds. Drain and immerse in ice water until cold. Drain, squeeze out all the excess water and coarsely chop. Combine in a blender with the cold stock and garlic and process until smooth. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing the solids with the back of a large spoon to extract all the liquid. Reserve the liquid and discard the solids. Melt the butter in a medium sauté pan or skillet over high heat, add the mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes. Set aside.

To sauté the scallops, heat the clarified butter in a large sauté pan or skillet over high heat until hot. Season the scallops with salt and pepper, dust with flour on both sides, and sauté until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Remove the pan from the heat and let the scallops rest in the pan for 1 minute.

Meanwhile, finish preparing the nage: Reheat the cream mixture, and add the parsley-spinach purée and the mushrooms. Bring just to a boil, then remove from the heat. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside and keep warm.

At the same time, melt the butter in a medium sauté pan or skillet over medium heat, add the carrots, squash and sugar snap peas, and sauté until heated through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, put 1/2 cup garlic mashed potatoes in the center of each of 4 warmed shallow bowls. Spoon the mushroom and parsley nage evenly around the potatoes, then place one fourth of the scallops on top of each serving of mashed potatoes. Arrange the vegetables on and around the scallops. Garnish with parsley springs.

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