With Valentine’s Day coming up next week, I’ve been on a mission to develop an unconventional surf and turf recipe for a special way to celebrate the loved ones in your life. Traditional surf and turf is a meal combining steak or red meat and seafood. Typically, I’ve prepared this as a steamed lobster tail with some cut of steak, usually a filet. Thinking outside the box to create a “non-traditional” surf and turf, I came up with many ideas; A salad with octopus and chorizo sausage, perhaps. Lobster ravioli with veal medallions might work. How about crab cakes and beef tenderloin? All sound good, but the reality is that Valentine’s Day and my husband’s birthday are in the same week so I think I’m going to prepare some of HIS favorites in a new way.
Ultimately I’m an old-fashioned girl. Call me crazy but I still love to make my husband happy by preparing his favorite dish or taking care of simple things around the house that make his life easier. Let’s face it, I complicate his life in many ways so if I can take the edge off with a batch of cookies or a juicy steak, why not? I love when I make a meal that makes my husband sing my praises.
Two of his favorite foods are pan-seared scallops and rack of lamb. So there we go, this is my version of surf and turf. Rack of Lamb with Rosemary Mustard Crust and Fresh Pan-seared Scallops served on a bed of garlic sautéed spinach.
If you are looking at this recipe and thinking you are not a fan of lamb, I’m going to challenge you to give good lamb a chance. As a kid we often spent our weekends traveling to my grandparents’ farm. My grandmother made lamb frequently. We knew that lamb would be on the table the minute we walked in the door. The strong smell of cooking lamb filled the air. She was a lovely woman but her preparation of lamb was a crime. She used mutton, older lamb that was not as mild or tender and she cooked it to its death. To say the least I grew up disgusted by the thought of lamb. It was somewhere in my young adulthood that I experienced well-prepared, tender and delicious lamb. Prepared and purchased properly, lamb is fabulous. It’s a cinch to prepare and at Heinen’s you can rest assured that you are buying a quality cut of lamb chops.
My lamb and scallop recipes are an adaptation of Ina Garten’s recipes. She calls for grape seed oil when cooking scallops. I’m leary of the high smoke content of some oils and the chemical change that occurs at different temperatures. I think when choosing an oil to sear foods the first consideration should be the taste profile. Personal preference comes into play. Personally, I think clarified butter is an excellent choice. Grape seed oil is mostly polyunsaturated and almost all of that is linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid. High consumption of omega-6 oils has been shown to inhibit the body’s ability to process alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) fatty acids.
Additionally, grape seed oil oxidizes quickly releasing carcinogenic free radicals in the process. That is an important thing to consider when storing (keep open bottles in the refrigerator). This also indicates the product is unstable at high temperatures (not a good frying oil despite its high smoke point). If you don’t want to use butter then Extra light olive oil would be a much better choice in my opinion.
I’m serving my lamb and scallops with risotto cooked in bone broth and tossed with sautéed spinach and lemon zest. I recently had it at a friend’s house (Thanks Jane). Some people are intimidated by the preparation of risotto but don’t be shy. It’s easy and delicious. Simply follow the package instructions. Use fresh stock or prepared broth to the rice slowly to allow it to absorb as it cooks. Once tender, toss in zest of one lemon and a bag of spinach that you have sautéed until slightly wilted.
Rosemary Mustard Rack of Lamb
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 racks of lamb
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process the salt, rosemary, and garlic until they’re as finely minced as possible. Add the mustard and balsamic vinegar and process for 1 minute.
- Place the lamb in a roasting pan with the ribs curving down, and coat the tops with the mustard mixture. Allow to stand for 1 hour at room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Roast the lamb for exactly 20 minutes for rare or 25 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from the oven and cover with aluminum foil. Allow to sit for 15 minutes, then cut into individual ribs and serve.
When purchasing scallops, like any seafood they should smell sweet and slightly briny. Never fishy! The sea scallops I purchased at Heinen’s were the best I have ever experienced. They are sushi quality and have never been frozen so when prepared they were completely tender and silky sweet.
Seared Sea Scallops
- Scallops (3-4 per person)
- Kosher salt
- Clarified butter*
- Place your scallops on a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Get your sautée pan very hot with a small amount of clarified butter. Place your scallops in your pan. Be careful not to crowd them. You’ll want an anchor or two of space between them. If you crowd them they will steam instead of sear.
- Let them sit on the heat for about two minutes until they have a golden brown sear.
- Carefully turn each one sear the other side about 90 seconds. Plate and enjoy.
*Clarified butter can be purchased but it’s super easy to make. It only takes a few minutes, too. Start with unsalted butter. Put a pound of butter in a saucepan. This will yield a little less than a pound of clarified butter. Cook gently over low heat until the butter starts to simmer and bubble. Skim off any froth you see forming on the surface and keep doing that until no more froth appears. Pour the clear, golden layer of butterfat into a glass container (you don’t want to use plastic that could melt). The milky layer can be used in other recipes, its great on pancakes or popcorn.
Post-clarifying, you now have something that is close to 100% butterfat, which can be stored for ages since there’s no longer any water to encourage spoilage, and which now has a smoke point of 450°F/230°C, while regular butter’s is 350°F/175°C.