Post 56 – How to Cook a Restaurant-Style Meal

Quick quiz – Mise en place – what does it mean?

Literally, mise en place is French for “put into place.” That means get yo’self together!

When you’re making a recipe, mise en place means getting your ingredients together and doing whatever chopping and measuring you need ahead of time, before the flame is roarin’. Mise en place is the key to cooking success especially if a recipe is complicated. Even if it’s not, getting organized will make things go much smoother. So get your act together and mise your stuff en place!

Today we’re going to make a restaurant-style meal at home using our mise en place skills because it’s easy and delicious. Sometimes restaurant menus can be deceiving with their fancy descriptions and unusual fonts, but don’t be fooled. You too can pan-sear a scallop!

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To start – the brussel sprouts. I’m not a super big fan of brussel sprouts but I had a few lingering in the fridge from a previous recipe so I decided to do something more than roast them. After a quick search, I decided to braise them and top them with a white wine mustard sauce, just for something different. To get yourself ready to make the brussel sprouts, start by cutting off the bottoms and halving them from top to bottom. Measure out your sauce ingredients so you are ready when they are. A few pats of butter in a hot pan and you are ready to begin. (The brussel sprouts were made using a recipe adapted from this one.)

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On to the pan-seared scallops…

While doing our weekend grocery shopping we discovered sea scallops on sale so I insisted we get them for dinner. I love scallops and end up ordering them often at restaurants, though I find they are actually incredibly simple and quick to cook. Your mise en place for these scallops is actually pretty minimal since there is no sauce. In fact you can do it while your pan is heating.

The key to pan-searing anything is a hot pan. Be sure to use a good quality heavy duty skillet (not using nonstick is actually highly recommended) and heat it over medium high heat with a bit of butter (for flavor) and oil. Be careful not to let the butter burn. Depending on how hot your stove is, once you see little bits of brown (the milk solids in the butter are browning) that’s a good sign it’s getting hot.

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Meanwhile (mise en place) lay your scallops out on a plate, pat dry if necessary, and sprinkle with a hefty pinch of Kosher salt (I find it easier to see and better for seasoning) and a few good grinds of black pepper.

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Once your pan is hot add your scallops using tongs, being sure not to overcrowd them. As Julia Child once said (I’m paraphrasing of course), if you want something to brown, do not crowd the pan!

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Allow them to form a nice brown crust for a few minutes and then flip to sear the other side. After another minute or so, turn off the heat and cover the pan with a large lid. Let sit for 3-5 minutes before serving.

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Dinner time! And you have made a delicious meal!

Our plates were complete with a nice pile of quinoa topped with cranberries and feta – a beautiful meal made in a short amount of time. The meal was delicious and satisfying and probably cheaper than going out to eat. In the end of course we had to do the dishes (our rule is whoever doesn’t cook does the dishes!) but the meal was well worth it.

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A FEW NOTES

This recipe is best made with fresh scallops, as previously frozen ones will release a lot of water, therefore making it harder to sear them.

I like to cook quinoa in chicken or vegetable broth to give it extra flavor. I recommend using a ratio of 1 cup quinoa to 1.5 cups water or broth (some packages recommend a lot more water, but I find it gets too mushy).

IMG_3786As Sam always says: Bon Appetit!

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