At this time of year there can often be a bit of a mad rush to try to see friends before the end of the year. Maybe it’s partly work holiday parties or the looming new year that have us thinking we have a deadline we have to see people by or we won’t have ended the year right, but whatever it is, there’s often a bit more entertaining going on than usual. I’m sure while many people like seeing others, what to do about food when you are entertaining can bring on a bit more anxiety. Fear not, today’s Sunday Supper is all about last minute holiday entertaining ideas (see more below) and I am bringing these delicious scallops with cranberry bacon jam to share with everyone. Grab them soon, they’ll go quickly!
I have always loved scallops and they naturally pair well with bacon, the delicate seafood flavors mingling with the salty smokiness. If you’ve never had bacon jam then you really need to give it a try – it’s everything delicious about bacon with a bit of added sweet stickiness, and it’s even better with scallops than plain bacon itself. This cranberry version adds a slight seasonal twist to make a truly fantastic appetizer, that looks the part as well. I have them served on top on zucchini and parmesan cakes here, which are a tasty addition but if you’re short on time then that’s the bit to skip, the scallops and bacon jam are the true stars here.
Making the cranberry bacon jam is the one bit that takes a little time here, but it is really SO worth the effort and you end up with plenty that you can then use other times. Also, while it takes a little time it’s very easy and you can do other things as well towards the end and just stir occasionally as it gently bubbles away and gets all gooey and delicious. If you can, it’s also a great idea to make the bacon jam ahead of time and then just pile it on top as you serve to make things a bit easier on yourself – it keeps well refrigerated for a good week or so. The leftovers are not just great with scallops, bacon jam goes with a whole range of things – for example try it with some chicken in a sandwich and you’ll wonder why you didn’t have it that way before.
For the rest of the dish, the scallops are simply pan-fried in a little butter and the zucchini cakes are made by finely grating some zucchini/courgette and parmesan, mixing it with a little egg white and flour then frying. They are pretty delicate, so be careful as you turn them, they may stick. Layer them up then serve to lots of admiring guests and be warned, you may need to make some more…one last thing, if you don’t want to share this deliciousness with guests then make a couple of sides and have a few each for dinner, as we did – they’re one of the most delicious but easy meals we’ve had in a while.
- for the cranberry bacon jam -
- 8oz/225g smoked (streaky) bacon
- ½ onion
- 1 large clove of garlic
- 2tbsp brown sugar
- 2tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2tbsp water
- 1tbsp molasses
- ½cup/45g fresh cranberries
- a few grinds of pepper
- for the zucchini cakes -
- 1 small zucchini, approx 5oz/145g
- 4tbsp/25g finely grated parmesan
- 2tsp flour
- 1tbsp egg white
- a couple grinds of pepper
- 8 scallops
- Slice the bacon and fry in a small/medium skillet over a medium-high heat until the fat is starting to render, stirring regularly, around 10 minutes.
- Finely chop the onion and garlic and add to the pan. Cook, stirring regularly until the onions have softened and gone translucent and the bacon is crisping, another roughly 10 minutes.
- Add the sugar, vinegar, water, molasses, cranberries and pepper and stir in well. Once it boils, reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for around 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it is nicely sticky.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool around 15-20 minutes before pulsing a few times in a food processor to break up the chunks but leaving some texture.This can all be done in advance.
- While the jam is cooling or when ready to cook and serve, finely grate the zucchini and squeeze out the excess liquid with your hands. Mix it with the grated parmesan the flour, egg white and a little pepper. Take tablespoonfuls of the mixture and roll each into a flattened ball - you should get 8.
- Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a skillet/frying pan over a medium-high heat and cook the zucchini cakes for around 5 minutes on each side until browned. Take care turning them, they may well stick and are delicate. Remove from the pan onto paper towel to remove any excess oil.
- In the same pan after or alongside in another pan, heat a little butter and fry the scallops around 3 minutes each side until gently brown (may be more, depending on thickness/heat of pan). Try to only turn them over once to get a nice caramelized sear on them.
- Stack the scallops on the zucchini cakes and top with a little spoonful of cranberry bacon jam and serve.
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Quick and Easy Holiday Recipe #SundaySupper by Sunday Supper Movement
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