Seared Scallops with Nantua sauce, Fennel, Escabeche and Manchego

Chef Joseph Martinez, Chef de Cuisine at Silo Terrance Oyster Bar in San Antonio, Texas created this mouthwatering scallop recipe as a custom pairing for crisp Rueda Verdejo wines. It’s so delicious that he beat out dozens of competitors to become one of the grand prize winners in our nationwide Chef’s Roll RyR Pairing Challenge. Rueda Verdejo is the perfect complement to this dish, the acidity of  the wine helps to balance the sauce and scallops. As Chef Martinez said, “the braised fennel is browned before braising and it brings a smokiness that pairs perfectly with floral notes of the Verdejo and of course the pop of acid in the veggies and crunch of the Manchego Tuile tie all the flavors together.”

Instagram: @JosephThadeus_Cooks

Restaurant: Silo Terrance Oyster Bar

Notes from our test kitchen:

This recipe is adapted from the original submitted by Chef Joseph Martinez, in order to adapt it for the home cook. It is an impressive dish, perfect for a special occasion or a special someone!

Nantua is a classical French sauce made from crayfish tails and named after the city of Nantua, which is famous for its crayfish. Note that the crawfish this recipe calls for is only in season in the first half of the year (with a peak in the Spring) and, often not available outside Texas and the Southeast United States. Lobster tails or shell-on shrimp  are the best substitutes.

Makes two servings

Ingredients

For the Sauce

  • ¼ cup diced mirepoix
    • = 2 tablespoons onion, 1 tablespoon each carrot and celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup crawfish tails
  • ½ oz Spanish sherry
  • 1 cup Rueda Verdejo wine
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 cups chicken broth or fish broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup uncooked roux
    • To make roux:
      • Melt 1 parts butter in a saucepan to 2 parts flour. Allow it to bubble for at least 1 minute while mixing.
    • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Braised Fennel

  • 1 fennel bulb, quartered, save the green section
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tsp butter
  • Fennel fronds (green portions)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Escabeche

  • ¼ cup Sherry vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup finely diced carrot
  • ½ cup finely diced tri color bell pepper (green, red, yellow – any or all. This is the total measure needed)
  • ¼ cup finely diced celery
  • 1 tsp chopped fennel fronds (green portions)
  • 1 cup of ice

For the Scallops

  • 6 fresh scallops
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup Manchego cheese, grated

 Preparation

 For the Sauce

  • In a medium sauce pot, cook the mirepoix and garlic over low-medium heat, add crawfish tails. Continue to cook gently for about 10 minutes while continuing to stir occasionally, until all liquid evaporates.
  • Deglaze with the sherry, stirring up browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
  • Add wine, mix well and reduce by half. Add tomato puree and cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat.
  • Add the chicken broth, heavy cream and bay leaf and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and let simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and remove bay leaf.
  • In a heavy-duty blender, blend contents of the pot in small amounts. After blending, strain carefully to remove all solids and shell/tail bits, pour back into sauce pot. The consistency should be a little watery but smooth.
  • Over medium high heat return to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  • Add the roux and continue to stir and simmer until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Allow the roux to cook completely without letting it stick.
  • Cover and set aside.

For the Braised Fennel

  • Cut the fennel bulb in half and remove the core.
  • Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Heat up an oven-safe medium pan (such as cast iron) and place the fennel bulbs, flat side down. Cook for two minutes until golden then flip and cook on the other side for another two minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Add chicken broth, butter, fennel fronds and salt and pepper and cover with foil.
  • Place sauce pot in oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Fennel should be tender but not mushy. Keep covered with foil and set aside.

For the Pickled Peppers

  • Combine the Sherry vinegar, water and salt in a sauce pot and bring to a boil. Add sugar and boil carefully until completely dissolved.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool to about 120 degrees (this will still be hot, check with a kitchen thermometer).
  • In a large heat-proof container, combine vegetables and ice.
  • Slowly pour Sherry mixture (pickling liquid) over the ice and veggies. Cover and place in the refrigerator to cool until vegetables are cooled completely.

For the Scallops

  • Pat scallops dry using a paper towel.
  • Heat a medium size skillet over medium heat. Place 1 tsp of oil in the skillet. Once heated, season scallops with salt and pepper and place in skillet.
  • Cook for one to two minutes or until golden brown then flip scallops and continue cooking for another two minutes.
  • Remove scallops from pan and allow to drain on paper towel for one minute before serving.

For the Manchego Tuile

  • Place shredded Manchego on a sheet tray lined with a silicone non-stick baking sheet such as a silpat. If no silpat is available, you can substitute it for aluminum foil prepared with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Place sheet tray in oven at 350 degrees for 7 minutes. Cheese should be light golden brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  • Once cool, break off pieces at desired size.

 To Serve:

  • Add 4 tablespoons of Nantua sauce to each plate.
  • In the center of your sauce, carefully place half the braised fennel.
  • Evenly place 3 scallops around the fennel, and using a small spoon, place pickled vegetables on top of the fennel.
  • Crack the Manchego Tuile and place throughout dish
  • Serve with Rueda Verdejo.
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