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Be inspired every day with Living North
open scallop shell with scallops, and creamed leeks sitting on a barbecue Andrew Montgomery
July 2022
Reading time 2 Minutes
It makes me very happy to cook fresh scallops over a fire. They’re so sweet, and such a joy to eat out in the open air. Sometimes I’ll thread them on to rosemary sticks with hunks of spicy chorizo sausage and grill them like kebabs. Sometimes I like to sizzle them in their own shells with thin slivers of garlic and salty butter. The only other thing they need is a squeeze of lemon at the end. In this recipe the scallops get seared over embers with thyme and salt and pepper, then served in their shells with silky creamed leeks cooked in some fruity cider. If I’m feeling decadent, I’ll finish the scallops and leeks with a little trickle of good truffle oil, which takes them to a whole new place. It’s not essential, but it is seriously good.
  • 2 leeks, halved lengthways, then thinly sliced into half moons
  • a knob of butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3–4 thyme sprigs
  • 200ml medium-dry cider
  • 150ml double cream
  • 8–12 large hand-dived scallops, removed from the shells and prepared
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Wash and drain the sliced leeks. Set a pan over a hot fire and add the butter. When it’s bubbling away, add the sliced garlic and sizzle it for a minute or so without letting it burn. Strip the leaves from half the thyme and add these to the garlic – they will pop and crackle. Scatter in the leeks, season with salt and pepper and give them a good stir. Cook, stirring regularly, until the leeks are soft and silky. This may take up to 10 minutes.

Now, add the cider and let it come up to a simmer and bubble away for a minute or two. Pour in the cream and simmer until the sauce has thickened. Season with a little more salt and pepper to taste, and keep warm.

Strip the remaining thyme from the stems and scatter it over the scallops. Season them with salt and pepper and trickle over the extra-virgin olive oil. Gently turn the scallops through the thyme and oil. Make sure the fire is super-hot before you start cooking the scallops – you need a broad bed of white-hot embers. If this means adding more fuel and letting it burn back, then do that. The leeks can wait happily to one side. Use some tongs to set the scallops down on the grill and cook them for one to two minutes on each side. You want some golden colour to develop before you turn them over and cook them on the other side.

Lay out the scallop shells over the grill. Divide the creamy leeks equally between the shells, then top each one with a grilled scallop. Eat hot.

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