Okay, so yeah, we're spoiled, spoiled, spoiled, but this was in fact a super-easy dinner to make, and it was FANTASTIC.
We picked up a half a dozen scallops from Swan's, salt and pepper, smoked them in the stovetop smoker with a tablespoon of mixed maple and oak chips for 15 minutes, and then seared them for a couple of minutes on each side to finish.
For a lovely effect, serve them with several dots of quality balsamic vinegar. If you don't have the good thick kind, simmer 1/3 cup of regular balsamic in a saucepan until reduced by half. (A tip of the hat to Patrick Hoogehyde, whose recipe inspired our version.) Absolutely spectacular, with a gorgeous, gentle, browned color deepened to a mahogany by the sear--succulent and perfectly tender--this has now become my most highly-recommended way to cook perfect scallops.
Indeed, the smoker has taken the lead as my Omnivore's most favorite-est piece of equipment in the kitchen. We got it in a bizarre-but-highly-profitable trading triangle in which we got rid of the plant that never got love in our house, and got a smoker and a wine fridge in the bargain. Don't ask...
After smoking just about everything in sight, we recently re-ordered wood chips and now have to work our way through ten pints of wood chips--hickory, oak, alder, maple, pecan, mesquite, bourbon soaked oak... Basically if it fits inside the smoker, it's fair game. Even some things that don't fit in the smoker are fair game...
To go with it, we tried some fregola--a Sardinian pasta made of semolina rolled couscous-style into balls and then toasted. I ran across it at the Berkeley Fourth Street Pasta Shop and on impulse picked up a couple of cups of it. As promised, it has a wonderful texture and a nutty flavour, and cooked in the clam juice it's utterly divine. I hadn't ever heard of it before, although fregola seems to have been featured in the New York Times about ten years ago.
We didn't want to cook clams this time, so instead of using the clam water to make the fregola, we substituted a bottle of clam juice and it worked just fine.
Fregola and Katinka Cherry Tomatoes
1 8 oz bottle of clam juice
1 cup dry white wine like sauvignon blanc
3/4 cup fregola
1 pint orange Katinka Cherry tomatoes
salt and pepper
In a medium saucepan, bring the clam juice and wine to a simmer. Add the tomatoes and fregola and simmer over a low to medium heat for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.