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Chicken Fat-Seared Scallops with Creamed Corn and Bacon, Crispy Okra Fries and Sweet Tamarind-Date Chutney 

The Wobbly Olive

For creamed corn:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the oil slightly, then add the bacon, over medium heat. Stirring occasionally, move the bacon around in the pan until a nice caramelization occurs and 2 tablespoons of fat have been rendered. At this point, remove the bacon but leave the fat in the pan. Reserve the bacon.

Next, add the onion and garlic. Sweat slightly over medium heat for 3 minutes, then add the corn and turn the heat up to almost medium-high. Sauté the corn-garlic-onion mixture for 5 to 7 minutes, until the corn is halfway cooked and the starchy taste is gone. At this point, add the vodka to deglaze the pan and release all of the wonderful stuck-on tidbits that will enhance the flavor of your end result. When the alcohol reduces by half, add the heavy cream and milk-and-flour mixture. Bring to a very slow-and-low simmering. Add the nutmeg and cumin and saffron/wine. Reduce very slowly until the cream has thickened up around the corn and is not runny. Add the reserved bacon in and continue to cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

For sea scallops:

To render the fat, buy a pack of chicken (or duck) legs that are extra heavy on the skin. Place the legs in a heavy-bottomed skillet with 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat and let the natural fats from the chicken skin come out over a 30-to-40-minute period. Do not let the fat boil. When you have accumulated a quarter-cup of rendered chicken fat, strain it. Then, in a large heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the chicken fat on medium-high.

Season the scallops with salt and pepper, and place seasoned side down in the hot chicken fat and sear to a beautiful golden yellow brown, roughly 4 to 5 minutes. Flip over and reduce the heat to medium-low and gently cook for another 2 minutes, spooning the fat in the pan over the scallops as they cook. Take out of the pan and let sit for 3 minutes before serving. The residual heat will continue to cook the scallops to a beautiful medium-well, and they will be perfectly buttery by the time they are on the table.

For crispy okra fries:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan (or even a home fryer), heat the oil to 325 degrees, using a strong metal or candy thermometer. Cut the okra in 1/8-inch slices lengthwise with a serrated knife to get perfectly uniform slices. In small batches, fry the okra on each side for 3 minutes, then remove from the oil and drain on a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper.

For sweet tamarind-date chutney:

Place all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Once boiled, reduce heat to a very low simmer, and let reduce slightly for an hour. Next, turn off the heat and let sit for another hour. Transfer to a blender and pulse until almost smooth, ensuring that there are still a few small chunks for texture. Refrigerate 24 hours before use.

Aftertaste

Cooking proteins in different animal fats just adds another element of flavor and can really make a good dish great. Lately, with all of the trends in cooking, people are really turning their backs on animal fats and moving in the direction of oils that are supposedly healthier for the body. As I agree that cooking with trendy, fatty ingredients is fun, I don't think we should forget that once in a while it's OK to be guilty. That's what we all have gym memberships for, right? Also, it is a great way to use those pieces of chicken/fat that we just trim off and throw in the garbage. Fat is flavor and we all have to die from something, so I say enjoy what you eat, in moderation of course.

— Submitted by executive chef David Cook

  • The Wobbly Olive

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