Easy recipes for a drink and a bite so you can enjoy the party
February 7, 2014
Bacon-wrapped scallops are one of the most luxurious appetizers you can serve, not to mention one of the easiest to prepare. And for me, that's a great combination.
I like using big, plump Alaskan sea scallops and applewood-smoked bacon. Because there are only two main ingredients in this dish, you need to make sure you use the best quality — the biggest, freshest sea scallops you can find and the most flavorful bacon. After that, they are so easy to grill that you hardly need a recipe.
There are two types of scallops, but only one of them is appropriate for the grill. Tiny bay scallops are so sweet, you can eat them raw or just lightly sauteed. But they also are more expensive and not suited for grilling. What you want are the larger, less expensive sea scallops.
This all-protein finger food appetizer is perfect for holiday entertaining. It's simple to prep and quick to cook. You even could prepare them in advance. I pre-cook the bacon to render some of the fat and make it soft and pliable for wrapping around the scallops. Then just refrigerate until your guests arrive and pop them on the grill when you want them.
We've also paired these with a simple maple-mustard sauce that is delicious dolloped on top of the scallops just before serving. But feel free to leave that off.
GRILLED BACON-WRAPPED SCALLOPS
Everything tastes better with bacon! And it doesn't get any better than fresh-from-the-ocean sea scallops wrapped with bacon. The scallops take very little time to cook, so I cook the bacon in the oven or microwave for a couple of minutes before I wrap it around the scallops. That way, I am guaranteed to get crispy bacon and tender scallops. The best sea scallops I've ever had are from Alaska, so ask your fishmonger for them. Start to finish, this recipe takes about 20 minutes.
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 pound jumbo sea scallops
1/2 pound center-cut bacon
Salt and ground black pepper
Round wooden toothpicks, soaked in water for 30 minutes
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Heat the grill to medium-high. In a small bowl, mix together the mustard and maple syrup. Set aside. Use paper towels to blot dry the scallops. Arrange them on a plate, and then set aside.
Arrange the bacon in a single layer on the rack over the baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until just starting to cook. Do not fully cook the bacon. Remove the bacon from the oven. If too hot to handle, let cool for several minutes. Once the bacon can be handled, wrap one slice of bacon around each scallop. Secure in place by threading one of the toothpicks through the bacon and scallop.
Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the tops and bottoms of the scallops with bacon fat from the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve with the sauce for dolloping a bit onto each.
Makes 12 to 14 scallops.
Nutrition information per scallop: 120 calories; 70 calories from fat (58 percent of total calories); 8 g fat (2.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 25 mg cholesterol;3 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 8 g protein; 320 mg sodium.
Don't play bartender
As festive as it is to offer a delicious cocktail at your party, picking the right mixed drink involves more than just deciding what tastes great and works with your menu. You also want something that can be prepped ahead of time, then set out for guests to serve themselves. That way, your guests can enjoy a drink and you can enjoy your guests.
To keep it simple, we stuck with a pitcher-style cocktail. We start by infusing tequila with cranberries and fresh mint. Then we pair that with a blend of citrus juices for a delicious DIY margarita. Start to finish, this recipe takes about 15 minutes, plus infusing time.
CRANBERRY-MINT INFUSED PITCHER MARGARITA
12-ounce bag cranberries
1 cup fresh mint leaves, plus additional for garnish
750-milliliter bottle silver or blanco tequila
3/4 cup agave nectar
1 cup lime juice
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water
In a blender, combine the cranberries, mint leaves and tequila. Blend until the berries and mint are well chopped. Cover, refrigerate and allow to steep overnight or for up to 3 days.
After the mixture has steeped, pour it through a mesh strainer to remove and discard the solids, pressing them to extract as much liquid as possible. Transfer the infused tequilas to a pitcher and refrigerate until ready to serve.
In a second pitcher, stir together the agave, lime juice, orange juice and water. Serve the pitchers side-by-side, along with mint sprigs to garnish. Instruct guests to pour equal parts of each mixture (roughly 2 ounces of each) into an ice-filled glass, then gently stir.
Makes 12 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 210 calories; 0 calories from fat (0 percent of total calories); 0 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 21 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 17 g sugar; 0 g protein; 0 mg sodium.
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