The best sea scallops are on the markets roughly at the same time with black truffles so it only makes sense that they appear together in the same dish. Scallops in black tie – a clever combination of scallops, black truffles, spinach and puff pastry – was made famous at Le Cirque and is still, to this day, one of the most popular item on their menu. It follows the old adage that if you put four delicious ingredients together, chances are the results are gonna be delicious x4. Okay, I made that up and I can think of plenty of ways to mess up those ingredients but you get my point. This combination works.
This is part II of the black truffle saga where I make three recipes out of one black truffle. The first installment of this exciting trilogy featured a Black Truffle Sponge Cake that was devoured senselessly by an experienced team of taste testers who reduced it to crumbs. And survived.
The fun part is to create little packages that I like to call “bundles of joy”. They can be built ahead of time and baked at the last moment. You start by slicing the scallops in fourth and make little “sandwiches” with the scallops and truffle slices. Then you steam the spinach and dry it well, and wrap the scallop/truffle bundles with the leaves. Cut a strip of puff pastry to wrap around the scallop bundles and two rounds for top and bottom. Brush some egg to make everything stick together and brush some more on the pastry so it turns golden brown when it bakes. The truffle trimming are used to make a sauce with vermouth, reduced chicken stock and butter.
Now, I’m aware that truffle is an expensive and hard to find ingredient but I wanted to demonstrate this technique anyway because with a little imagination you could replace the truffles by let’s say.. beets, or other things, and create a quite impressive appetizer while staying budget friendly. Enjoy!
Sea Scallops in Black Tie
- Recipe by Daniel Boulud in “Cooking with Daniel Boulud”
- Serves 6
Sea Scallops in Black Tie
- 2 fresh black truffles, golf-ball size
- 10 jumbo Maine sea scallops, very fresh and firm
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces spinach leaves, stems discarded, washed
- 1/2 pound puff pastry
- 1 egg whisked with 1 teaspoon water
Vermouth Truffle Sauce:
- 1 1/4 cups dry white vermouth (Noilly Prat)
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
For the Sea Scallops in Black Tie:
- Slice each truffle into 16 thin slices with a vegetable slicer or mandoline (you will need about 3 slices of truffle per scallop). Save any juice, chop the trimmings, and set both aside for the sauce.
- Cut each scallop horizontally into 4 slices. Reconstruct each scallop by alternating the 4 slices of scallop with 3 slices of truffle. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate until needed.
- Wilt the spinach in a steamer or in water for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain, cool under cold running water, and drain again. Carefully spread each spinach leaf open on a kitchen towel and pat dry with a second towel.
- Place a layered scallop in the center of a large spinach leaf and wrap the leaf tightly and smoothly around the scallop. If the scallop is not totally enclosed in the spinach leaf, use a second leaf to seal the scallop in. Repeat the same process for each layered scallop and refrigerate until needed (discard the remaining spinach leaves, or keep for other uses).
- Sprinkle the counter and rolling pin with flour and roll out the puff pastry until very thin, about 1/8 inch thick. Cut out 24 disks with a 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter and 12 ribbons of puff pastry about 5 by 1 1/2 inches. Refrigerate the disks and ribbons on a floured baking sheet for 15 minutes.
- After the dough has rested, brush about 1 inch at one end of each ribbon with the egg wash. Place 1 spinach bundle on the other end of the ribbon and roll the ribbon around the bundle until it overlaps the brushed end to seal. Fold the pastry edges tightly over the top and bottom of the bundle. Brush 2 disks with the egg wash and place a disk on either side of the bundle. Press well to seal. Repeat the same steps to wrap each spinach bundle in the puff pastry.
- Place the turnovers on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Brush each pastry lightly with the remaining egg wash. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
- Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Bake the turnovers for 5 to 8 minutes, depending on the size, or until golden (while baking, watch carefully that they do not burn).
For the vermouth/truffle sauce:
- Prepare the sauce while the turnovers are baking. Pour the vermouth into a small saucepan over high heat. Reduce to 1 teaspoon, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock. Reduce to 1/4 cup and stir in the butter. Add the reserved chopped truffle trimmings, salt and pepper to taste, and remove from heat.
- Split the turnovers in half from top to bottom with a sharp serrated knife. Spoon 1 tablespoon of sauce on the bottom of 4 warmed plates. Place the Sea Scallops in Black Tie on the plates and serve immediately.