Tender sea scallops seared golden brown and served with a buttery white wine pan sauce. Delicious, elegant, and done in about 15 minutes.
1 lb. sea scallops, rinsed and patted dry
Coarse salt and ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 cup dry white wine or dry French white vermouth
1/4 cup half and half, or same amount equal parts whole milk and cream whisked together
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tablespoon basil that has been cut into chiffonade (thin strips)
1. Warm a large skillet (about 12 inches diameter) over high heat. Sprinkle a couple of generous pinches of salt over the dry scallops, along with a few grinds of black pepper.
2. When the pan is hot, add 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil, swirling to allow it to coat the entire bottom of the pan. Quickly, before the oil begins to smoke, add about half the scallops to the pan in a single layer. They should sizzle audibly the instant they hit the pan. Do not crowd the pan, because that would cause the scallops to steam rather than browning.
3. Cook the scallops for about 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 minutes on the first side, until the surface of the scallops against the pan is golden brown and they begin to release themselves from the pan. Turn them and cook for another 2 minutes or so, until they are golden brown on the second side and release from the pan. Adjust the heat to medium-high as needed to prevent the browned bits on the bottom of the pan from burning. The second side of the scallops may not brown as much as the first. Remove the cooked scallops to a plate to rest. Turn the heat back to high, add the second Tablespoon of oil and repeat the process to sear the second batch of scallops. Again, adjust the heat as needed while you work to prevent the browned bits on the bottom of the pan from scorching.
4. As soon as you have removed all the scallops from the pan, pour the wine into the pan and turn the heat to high. Use a wooden spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan as the wine boils and reduces to about half its original volume. Add the half and half and parsley, stir to combine and allow to simmer for about 1 minute. Turn off heat and swirl in the butter.
5. Tip the accumulated juices from the plate on which the scallops are resting into the pan sauce, stirring to combine. Pour the sauce onto a small serving platter and arrange the scallops, nestled in the sauce. Drizzle the lemon juice over the scallops and scatter the basil over everything just before serving.
Serve with rice and/or a baguette of good French bread to soak up the extra sauce.