Friday, June 19, 2009

Champagne Risotto with Scallops

As if risotto isn't decadent enough, substituting champagne for the usual white wine really pushes this one over the edge. So if you ever find yourself reincarnated as the chef for the Medici family in Renaissance Florence, you know what to make.

scallop risotto
2 T butter
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 cup arborio rice1 cup champagne
chicken broth (usually several cups)
1/4 lb. scallops
1/2 c freshly grated parmesan (probably more)

Put the chicken broth in a sauce pan and heat over medium/low heat. Meanwhile, saute onions in melted butter for about 3 minutes, add rice and cook in butter for about 2 minutes until opaque, add 1 c champagne and simmer rice until liquid is almost gone. Add 1 c of the hot broth to rice pan and stir rice until liquid is absorbed. Continue until the rice is chewy. Add cheese. For more detailed instructions, see this recipe for 3 cheese risotto.

Sear the scallops just before the risotto is done. The most important things to keep in mind when searing scallops are (1) use a very hot, non-stick pan, and (2) make sure the scallops are dry before searing. If the pan is not hot enough, the scallops will release water and never obtain the perfect sear. So pat your scallops dry with a paper towel while the pan heats up. Place about 1/2 a tablespoon of butter in the pan as it heats, and add the scallops when the pan is almost smoking hot. Do not crowd the pan, which is another enemy of a good sear. We usually sear bay scallops for a only 30 seconds per side (sear sea scallops about 1 minute per side). Just keep an eye on them and flip them when they have a golden brown crust. If you have to sear them in two batches, wipe down the pan with a paper towel between batches, add new butter, and start over.

Served the seared scallops over the finished risotto with a generous dusting of parmesan and chopped parsley.

Scallops 101
We used bay scallops here, but sea scallops are more common, larger, and would perhaps be easier to sear. In fact, we haven't seen any recipes for seared bay scallops, but thought we would give it a try. Sea scallops are usually about two inches long and 1.5 inches thick, whereas bay scallops are much smaller. Calico scallops are often sold as 'bay scallops,' but can be detected by their opaque appearance around the edges. Apparently, they lose their natural flavor when shucked so be careful not to get ripped off.

Other recipes you may like:
3 cheese risotto recipe
shrimp scampi recipe


  1. Sounds amazing can't wait to try it!

  2. Hey - so this recipe has been an inspiration for us...We made scallops tonight (followed your advice and they turned out great!) with asparagus risotto (yum) and marinated steak and shrimp + a curry dipping sauce. Ammmmaazing. Thanks for the inspiration!!

  3. Wow! Sounds like a serious feast. Bring me some leftovers next time :)


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