I love when a simple, basic ingredient can – with a little technique – be elevated into something extraordinary.
Browned butter is that thing.
If you’ve never used it in cooking or baking, drop whatever it is you’re doing and grab a stick of butter. Seriously.
If butter makes everything better (it does, right?), then browned butter makes it transcendent. Browning butter brings out a rich, nutty, heavenly flavor that – while subtle – makes a tremendous difference in so many sweet and savory recipes.
Making browned butter is not difficult, but there are a few tricks to ensuring success, which I’m sharing with you today in one of my favorite recipes – sweet sea scallops in an herbed brown butter sauce.
This is one of those fabulous dishes that’s “dinner-party” worthy, but quick and easy enough for a busy weekday night.
Let’s get cooking!
Pan-Seared Scallops in Brown Butter Sauce
adapted from Handle the Heat
For the brown butter sauce:
4 T. unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 small shallot, minced
1 T. minced fresh parsley
1/2 t. minced fresh sage
2 t. fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper
For the scallops:
1 1/2 lbs. large sea scallops, tendons removed and patted very dry
Salt and pepper
2 T. vegetable oil, divided
2 T. unsalted butter, divided
Make the sauce:
Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until brown bits form on the bottom of the pan. Add the shallot and cook for 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat and continue whisking till the butter turns a deep golden brown, with a rich, nutty aroma. Stir in the parsley, sage and lemon juice; season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover the saucepan with a lid to keep warm.
Make the scallops:
Sprinkle the dry scallops with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat 1 T. of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add half of the scallops in a single layer and cook, without moving, until well browned. You’ll know it’s time to flip when they release easily from the bottom of the pan.
Add 1 T. of the butter to the skillet. Carefully flip the scallops and continue to cook until the sides of the scallops are firm and the centers are opaque, 1-2 minutes. Remove the scallops to a plate and tent loosely with foil. Wipe out the skillet and repeat cooking with the remaining oil, scallops, and butter. Serve immediately with browned butter sauce.