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Scallops Fra Diavolo April 29, 2008

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, food porn.

We have decided that just because we’ve got a new addition to the family, and just because harmony doesn’t quite reign at the moment, there’s no reason not to eat properly. That, and what with the 4am snarl-fests, I’ve been pretty lazy about cooking, leaving it all to Peeps. πŸ™„

Now I’ve never really eaten scallops; my mother evidently had a bad scallop experience as a kid, so she never cooked them. Given that there’s no love lost between me and seafood, even at the best of times, it’s only been in the last couple of years that I’ve even really tried eating, let alone cooking, scallops at all. πŸ˜•

However, as it happens, we ran across a pretty decent deal on bay scallops (the wee little ones) at Sam’s Club a while back, so here we are. I came across a recipe in Cook’s Illustrated a while back for Scallops Fra Diavolo (which, translated, means “brother devil” – huh). Our friends at Cook’s Illustrated haven’t led me astray yet, so. . .

One thing I’ve learned is, especially when dealing with a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, to do the mis en place thing — read through the recipe and get everything at least out, if not measured. Really. So, of course, first thing you do is open the wine. πŸ˜† A few years back, I came across a lovely Riserva Chianti, at a “reasonable” price. . . then, last fall, when we were in Massachusetts, they had the same wine, even more reasonably priced (I’m talking $10.95 a bottle) plus there was a 10% discount when you buy a case plus Massachusetts doesn’t charge sales tax on wine. What a deal! And did I mention it’s actually a decent bottle of wine?

Wine For Dinner

The other first thing was to start some salted water boiling for pasta. After all, you really can’t have an Italian tomato-based dish without pasta, now can you? We opted to use about a pound or so of basic spaghetti. Maybe a little less – it amounted to a big Peeps handful. πŸ˜‰

Meanwhile, I tossed together:

  • a pound of the bay scallops
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes – that would be the “diavolo” part, I’m thinking!
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • and 3/4 teaspoons table salt


While the water is heating, heat a large, heavy skillet over high heat. When hot, toss scallops, et al into the skillet in a single layer, and let them cook, without stirring just until they start to brown on the bottom, about 30 seconds. Remember, if you overcook scallops, you end up with little rubber balls. . . yuck.gif

sautee scallops

OK, so once the scallops are browned, you’ll remove them from the heat and stir. Add 1/4 c. brandy (or cognac) and let it warm slightly, just a few seconds, then return it to high heat, light a match, and flambΓ©, baby! πŸ˜†

flambe baby!Of course, it goes without saying to be very, very careful – flame is, well, it’s HOT! But we’re all adults here, so we know that fire is not a toy. πŸ™‚

Shake the pan gently until the flames subside, then transfer the scallops to a medium bowl and set aside. What’s going to happen here is that the sugars in the brandy will slightly caramelize and add a sweetness to your finished sauce that is, well, a-freaking-mazing. 😯

(By the way, your pasta water is probably boiling by now. Just turn it down – you’ll need it and want it to be hot soon enough.)

Now, the pan you used for scallops should be slightly cooled – put it back on low heat and add 3 Tablespoons of olive oil 3 Tablespoons ❗ of minced garlic (the rest of the “diavolo” in the name, I’m thinking!). You’re going to saute this over low heat, stirring patiently, until the garlic starts to darken – you don’t want to actually brown it, just gently cook it; it’ll take 7 to 10 minutes, so be patient.


Now add:

  • another teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup dry white wine I used pinot grigio
  • You’re going to want to drop your pasta into the boiling water about now, too. πŸ™‚

Sauce Pasta cooking

While the pasta cooks (probably 8-10 minutes, depending on your pasta of choice), simmer the sauce about 8 minutes, until slightly thickened and fragrant. Then stir in the reserved scallops (remember them?) along with any juices from the bowl, about a quarter cup of minced freshed parsley, and yet another Tablespoon of garlic. yummy.gif Just simmer until everything is thoroughly hot, making sure the little scallops are cooked through, but not yet bouncy balls 😳 (maybe another minute or so). Drain your pasta, toss with the sauce, and you’re ready to go. Personally, I’d suggest serving with a nice sourdough Italian bread. rotfl.gif

Ready to eat

Note – This recipe made about 4 regular servings, or 3 “I’m starving” servings – when reheating leftovers, be very careful not to overheat the scallops!

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