I thought this looked too highfalutin for a post, but I put this on Facebook and immediately had two requests for the recipe, so here we are!
This dish does look fancy, but the work-to-payoff ratio is just the way I like it: Simple and easy preparation = a stunning meal. I threw two sweet potatoes in the oven, started the sauce, threw broccoli in the oven, then cooked the scallops. I knocked my own socks off with only about 30 minutes of actual work for all four things--scallops, sauce, and two veggies. Easy! (But still fancy!)
Pan-Seared Scallops with Champagne Butter Sauce (Beurre Blanc)
For the scallops
1 pound sea scallops
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
For the beurre blanc
7 tablespoons (nearly one stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces
1 large shallot, minced
1 cup champagne or other dry sparkling wine (go cheap here)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and season lightly with salt and pepper; stir and cook until translucent, about 1 minute. Add champagne and vinegar and bring to a boil. Boil for 15-20 minutes, or until it reduces to about 1/4 cup. Over very low heat, whisk in the remaining butter one piece at a time, fully incorporating each piece before adding next. (Don't let it boil--the sauce will separate!) When all of the butter is incorporated, stir in the chives and season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat, and cook the scallops.
Place scallops on a large plate lined with a couple of paper towels. Blot the tops gently with another paper towels. Let them sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet (I used a stainless steel fry pan) over high heat until just smoking. Add scallops in single layer, flat-side down, and cook, without moving, until well browned, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Add butter to skillet. Gently flip scallops; continue to cook until sides of scallops are firm and centers are opaque, 30 to 90 seconds longer.
Spoon sauce over scallops to warm very briefly, about 15 seconds, then serve, adjusting seasoning to taste. Bask in your dinner guests' adoration.