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Friday, July 20, 2007

Champagne Cucumber Risotto with Pan Seared Scallops

This meal started out with a package of frozen scallops defrosting in the kitchen and me scratching my head, trying to figure out what to do with them. It sort of evolved from there.

I decided that it would be really nice to have the scallops with Risotto. I usually make my Risotto with white wine, but I had an open bottle of near-flat champagne sitting on the counter from a disastrous attempt at homemade Bellini's last week (well it wasn't a complete disaster because I did get tipsy). Just don't be looking for any accompanying cocktail recipes on this site anytime soon because apparently, 'drink mixology' is not my forte. But then again I learned from my friends, who invented the shooter: "Fire in the Front Bum" (don't ask). Note to my friends: this recipe would also work well with Baby Duck.

Back to my Risotto. Using the champagne in place of white wine turned out to be a stroke of genius (if I do say so myself!). It added a wonderful flavour to the Risotto and it is a great way to use up the leftovers. Has anyone ever actually finished a bottle of champagne they popped open to celebrate a special occassion? (or make pukey bellini's?). Exactly!

At some point, while I was cooking, I realized there was no green vegetable with this meal. I am a bit of a stickler for serving some green with every meal. I couldn't throw together a salad, because I didn't have any lettuce. So here is where this meal gets a little odd. I put grated cucumber in my risotto. And you know what? It was good! Then I sauteed the scallops with just a tiny bit of bacon for flavour.

This meal turned out to be very nice. See that nice photo with the five perfectly placed scallops? After I snapped the pics, I put 4 more scallops on my plate....yu-mmy!

Champagne Cucumber Risotto with Pan Seared Scallops

1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup champagne
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
5 cups chicken broth
1 cup shredded cucumber (squeeze out excess moisture)
1/3 cup Parmesan
1/4 cup chives
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp butter
400g scallops
1 tbsp bacon bits (about a half a slice)
1 tbsp olive oil

1. Bring chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan.

2. In a non-stick saute pan, saute onion in 1 tbsp olive oil until translucent. Add rice and cook another minute.

3. Add champagne and cook until mostly absorbed.

4. Begin adding hot chicken broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring each addition until mostly absorbed. Continue until about 1 cup of broth remains.

5. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil with bacon bits in a saute pan. Cook scallops for about 2 minutes per side until cooked through. Do not overcook.

6. While the scallops are cooking, add the last of the broth and the grated cucumber. Stir until absorbed.

7. Finish the Risotto by stirring in Parmesan, chives, cilantro and 1 tbsp butter. Serve immediately with scallops on top.