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Risotto and Truffles and Scallops...Oh my!

One of my favorite dishes at NoRTH restaurant (in Leawood, KS) was their truffle and mushroom risotto with seared scallops. However, at $28 a plate it was something I only ate a couple of times a year. One day, NoRTH decided to take this beautiful, naturally gluten-free dish off of the menu. I took it as the restaurant’s way of telling me to finally try making this extravagant dish at home. In addition to getting to enjoy an expensive dish at half the cost, I am also able to cut down on the sodium and fat content compared to the restaurant’s version and make it my own by adding some peas for color. This is also a great way to use two of my favorite Costco buys: their Kirkland Signature Organic chicken stock (which is actually lower in sodium than a lot of the “low sodium” chicken broths on store shelves) and their Urbani White Truffle Oil (the best value on anything truffle-related out there). The recipe has borrowed elements from both Gabrielle Rucker’s risotto at Le Pigeon’s in Portland and Tyler Florence’s mushroom risotto. But these chef’s risotto recipes become more than mere side dishes when they support yummy scallops. Scallops can be intimidating to make at home because the keys to a truly perfect scallop are freshness and an amazing sear. Here in Kansas, you’re not going to get actual freshly-caught scallops. However, you can buy some pretty great 2-inch, raw sea scallops frozen. Just be sure not to thaw your scallops until the day you are actually cooking and eating them because fresh, shucked scallops spoil quickly. I think that this is a great dish to make for guests, but it's just as appropriate for you and your loved ones on a regular Monday night…which is precisely when I decided to try it out. Don’t forget to have some of your favorite Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay with this dish.

Mushroom, Peas and Truffle Risotto with Seared Scallops:
Serves 8

6 cups organic, low sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ an onion, diced, divided
2 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), halved, thinly sliced crosswise 
2 garlic cloves, minced, divided
1 pound fresh Portobello and crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped
Photo Credit: Me
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon truffle oil
2 cups Arborio rice
1 1/2 cup Chardonnay
1 cup frozen sweet peas, thawed
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated

  1. Heat the chicken broth in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and 1 clove garlic, cook, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms, herbs and butter. Sauté for 2-4 minutes until lightly browned, season with salt and pepper. Drizzle in truffle oil..
  3. Coat a saucepan with remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add onion and the remaining 1 clove garlic and cook until the onion starts to turn translucent. Add the arborio rice and stir quickly until it is well-coated and opaque, 1 minute. This step cooks off some of the starch in the rice and stops the individual grains from sticking together. Stir in wine and cook until it is nearly all evaporated.
  4. Add 1 cup of the warm chicken broth to the rice and stir. Once the rice has absorbed all the liquid, continue to add the remaining broth, 1 cup at a time. Continue to cook and stir, allowing the rice to absorb each addition of broth before adding more. The risotto should be creamy, but the individual grains should keep their shape—we’re not going for mushy rice.
  5. Add the thawed peas and cooked mushrooms to the rice. Stir in the shaved Parmesan cheese, and cook briefly until melted. Remove the risotto from the hot burner, cover, and set aside while you prepare the scallops.
Seared Scallops:
2 pounds raw sea scallops, thawed
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and Pepper
  1. Start heating a large sauté pan on medium heat.
  2. In the meantime, rinse the scallops in cold water. Pat them dry with a paper towel.
    Salt and pepper the dried scallops on both sides.
  3. Add the butter and olive oil to the sauté pan, and turn the heat up to medium high. The fat will begin to smoke a little, indicating that it’s time to start placing the scallops in the pan. The scallops can be close but not touching each other.
  4. Sear the scallops for a minute and a half on each side. Each side of the scallop should have a nice gold, brown crust, but still remain translucent in the middle.
  5. Serve the risotto onto individual plates and top with a drizzle of truffle oil and shaved Parmesan.
  6. Place three to four scallops on each of the plates that have just been topped with risotto. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Photo Credit: Me

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