Sea Scallops with Bacon-Braised Kale and Cabbage

I can't get enough of food competition shows. Especially Hell's Kitchen. And every week when I watch an episode and see the contestants cooking up a storm for dinner service, I always think to myself, "I could do that."

The reality is that I couldn't even come close to what those experienced chefs are doing, but I decided that it would be fun to give some of those Hell's Kitchen dinner dishes a try. So this week I prepared sea scallops. I figured that it would be fancier than I what I'd typically fix for a weeknight meal. But it would be something that wouldn't take much prep or cook time at all. Plus, I knew that it would go great with the last bit of red kale and cabbage that I had from my Colvin Family Farm CSA share.

I picked up a pound of wild sea scallops at The Fresh Market, which was about 12 scallops (enough for four servings, I think). When I got home, I put the scallops in the refrigerator while I prepped the kale and cabbage. And BACON.

Bacon is always a good thing, so I took three slices of thick cut bacon and sliced them. I fried the bacon in a skillet, and when it was all crispy, I took the bacon out with a slotted spoon and put it on some paper towels to let the excess oil drain out.

I then took the kale and cabbage and put it in the bacon drippings to fry. (The kale and cabbage were roughly chopped. I used one bunch of kale, stems removed and leaves cut into strips; and I used half of a medium-sized cabbage.) After the greens had time to wilt, I covered the skillet to let them finish cooking.

While the greens were braising, I took the scallops out and washed them thoroughly. I also removed the adductor muscle from each one, which is a little piece of muscle on the side of the scallop that it uses to keep its shell shut. If you cook a scallop without removing the muscle, the muscle won't hurt you. It'll just be extra chewy. 

I patted each scallop dry, then I laid them out and sprinkled them with salt and pepper. In a pan, I heated up a pat of butter in extra virgin olive oil. When I noticed that it started to smoke just a little, I put the scallops in the pan, making sure not to crowd them. And here's the great part about scallops: It only takes a couple of minutes to pan sear each side! Seriously. It's that easy. 

After a couple of minutes, take your tongs and lift up the scallop to see if it's turned a nice golden brown. If it's that beautiful golden brown color, then you're ready to flip the scallop and let the other side cook. So simple. And by the time I finished the scallops, my kale and cabbage dish was also ready. I put the bacon pieces back in with the kale and cabbage and gave it all another toss. 

I served up the kale and cabbage with the scrumptious scallops on top. And I squeezed some fresh lemon juice all over the dish to give it a nice citrusy zing. The scallops and greens were a great combo! This is one simple but fancy weeknight dinner I'll be making again. So take that, Hell's Kitchen. Maybe I'll make some beef Wellies next time. (I'm kidding! That's too hard!)