Every Thanksgiving game-plan needs a great holiday appetizer. These scallops are my go-to for something to serve while finalizing the last of the dinner prep. They are salty, meaty, savory, and sweet from the honey bourbon glaze. I like making them year-round, they’re that tasty.
Scallops are called the ‘candy of the sea’. They are similar in taste to lobster but firmer in texture. They should be sweet, slightly briny, and very delicate. Like candy, it’s hard to eat just one.
HOW TO BUY SCALLOPS
Bay scallops are the smaller, sweeter variety that is typically available from April to September. For this recipe, we want to choose sea scallops.
Sea scallops are larger, up to 2-inches in diameter and available year-round. Most sea scallops are sold wet-packed, which means that the scallops are treated with a solution of sodium tripolyphosphate to preserve them as soon as they harvested. When cooked, wet scallops tend to be smaller and a bit tougher.
Dry scallops are just that – dry. They are not treated with a chemical water bath. They are a little more difficult to find and a bit more expensive, but the taste and texture are worth it.
When buying scallops, look for ones that are firm, shiny, and creamy white in color. Avoid any that are gray or very bright white.
Pass on any scallop that looks broken, cracked, or shredded. They are either old or mishandled. Neither is a good thing.
If you see scallops that have an orange or pink hue, snatch them up. This means they are very healthy and fresh.
PREPARING THE SCALLOPS FOR COOKING
The scallops are one of the easiest things to prep for cooking. First, rinse the scallops under cold, running water.
Next, feel around them for a small side-muscle that will be a rectangular piece that will feel tougher and more fibrous than the rest of the scallop. Just pinch it and tear it away. Not all of the scallops will have this piece still attached.
This holiday appetizer is a perfect starter for a beautiful meal that incorporates all the taste profiles – salty, sweet, and meaty.
24 large dry sea scallops
12 slices bacon
½ cup honey
¼ cup bourbon
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon melted butter
Freshly-cracked black pepper
Soak 24 toothpicks in water for 30-minutes.
Lay the scallops on paper towels and pat dry. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Arrange the bacon slices in a single layer on the sheet. Bake for 7 – 8 minutes until the fat is beginning to render, but the bacon is still flexible and not crisp. You want the strips to stay pliable so they will wrap around the scallop.
Remove the bacon and allow to drain on paper towels. Cut the strips in half and set aside. Reserve the bacon fat.
In a small bowl, stir together the honey, bourbon, soy sauce, and melted butter. Set aside.
Lightly season the scallops with salt and pepper. Using a half slice of bacon, wrap around the scallop and secure with a toothpick that has been soaking.
Using one large cast-iron skillet or six small cast-iron skillets, grease the bottom and sides of the skillets with the reserved bacon fat.
Arrange the scallops in a single layer in the skillets.
Using a basting brush, liberally brush the sauce on both sides of the scallops.
Bake the scallops in the preheated oven for 5 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and brush both sides of the scallops with more sauce, being very generous.
Return to the oven and continue baking for another 5 – 8 minutes or until the scallops are just opaque and the bacon is very crisp.
Remove the pans from the oven and serve immediately.