Mark has been out of town all week, so I wanted to make him a nice dinner when he got home. We both really love Rick Bayless and eat at Frontera Grill anytime we're in Chicago. So, I found some of RB's recipes online and went to town.
The Jalapeno Cilantro Cream Sauce in the scallop recipe is to die for. It is so so good, but beware, it's pretty spicy. It really depends on how spicy the jalapenos are that you're using. I used one out of our garden and those are always really potent.
The cream sauce is nothing more than a good salsa mixed with a little heavy cream at the end. The salsa is actually a roasted salsa and you can really tell the difference when you taste it. I roasted my tomatoes and jalapeno in the toaster oven. When they cool, remove the skins from the tomatoes, but keep the jalapeno in tact except for cutting off the stem.
Next, place the onions and garlic on the same baking sheet that the tomatoes and jalapeno roasted on. Let them roast for about 10 minutes. When they're done, throw them into your food processor along with the roasted tomatoes and jalapeno. Pulse until everything is finely chopped. It should be a saucy consistancy, which is good because you're going to be cooking the salsa later. Now stir in your cilantro, salt, and cider vinegar into the salsa and taste. It should have a lovely roasted flavor and you can just image how good it'll be later when you add that hot cream. Yum!
Now on to the scallops. The scallops were actually fairly easy, but messy because you have to keep the pan so hot that the oil just wants to jump out of the pan and onto everything. It was nothing I couldn't clean up, but messy all the same. I marinated the scallops in a little lime juice for about a half hour. Before starting the scallops, I sauteed up two diced andouille sausages to serve as a garnish for the dish. I removed the andouille from the pan and then added a little olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
I then added the scallops. I used cast iron because virtually nothing sticks to it and it can withstand alot of heat. I seasoned both sides of the scallops with fresh ground pepper and just a touch of salt (because alot of the saltiness was going to come from the sausage drippings already in the pan). Once the scallops were done, I placed them on a warmed plate.
Now the recipe suggests putting the jalapeno cilantro salsa into the pan that you just seared your scallops in (after draining the oil out). Yeah, that wasn't gonna work out. You should have seen the pan when I was done searing these scallops. It was blackened. My sauce would have ended up tasting burnt, so I opted for a clean saute pan. I heated up the salsa for a few minutes, then added the cream. I heated that through and the sauce was done - easy as that. Believe me, it tasted great and did not need to be prepared in the scallop pan.
I wanted to serve rice as the side dish for this dinner, so I chose Rick Bayless's Mexican Red Tomato Rice. I started by combining a can of diced tomatoes, onion, and garlic in a food processor and pulsed until pureed. I browned the raw rice in a pan with olive oil until it was a toasty brown color. I then added the tomato/garlic/onion mixture to the toasted rice and let the rice absorb it for about 3 minutes.
This rice also calls for grilled tomatoes to be added at the end, so while the rice was cooking, I grilled up three small tomatoes on my griddle. Once they were grilled and cooked through, I removed the skins and rough chopped them.
Back to the rice. After the three minutes of cooking with the tomato/onion/garlic mixture, I added the warm chicken broth, serano chiles and parsley. I left the carrots out because I just wasn't feelin' that idea. I cooked the rice the rest of the way through by covering the pan. At the end I added the peas and grilled chopped tomatoes. It turned out very tasty and looked pretty too.
To plate this dinner, I put a couple small ladle fulls of the jalapeno cream on the plate and placed the scallops on top. I sprinkled my andouille sausage over the top of the scallops and finished it off with some fresh cilantro. I added a little rice to the side.
We served this dinner with the Rosemount Estate Diamond Label Shiraz, 2004. This wine is only about $12 a bottle, but it has a good flavor and goes great with spicy food. I was pleased with the pairing.
After it was all said and done, we ate and I was way too tired to post all this last night, so it had to wait until now. Today is another deck building day for Mark and the guys, so I'm in charge of feeding them. I made them egg/cheese/bacon sandwiches on Jalapeno Cheese bread and an omlet for my dad. Lunch will be sandwiches and Mark will get to try my green soup from a few days ago. He tried my fritters last night and really liked them.
Well that's it for today, see you all tomorrow! Mabye Mark will cook tomorrow - stay tuned!
P.S. This is what I'm looking at every time I post to this blog. The router is always a little warm and my cat Coney loves to lay on it and hang out while I type. Isn't he cute? ha ha...