I'm a firm believer that quality vinegar can turn an average meal into one that you'll be talking about for days.
The following recipe for seared sea scallops calls for Banyuls vinegar, a wine vinegar made from grapes grown in the Banyuls-sur-Mer region of France. The vinegar is aged in oak barrels for more than five years, which helps yield a nutty flavor.
Though a bit of an investment at the outset, the vinegar keeps well and can be used to make delicious vinaigrettes and as a reduction sauce for a variety of proteins.
In this recipe, the Banyuls vinegar is used at the end to deglaze the pan, and is then poured on top of the scallops, which have been seasoned and seared in olive oil spiked with garlic. The vinegar's nuttiness marries beautifully with the scallops delicate flavor and turns the pungent garlic into a subtle undertone.
Follow this link to see the recipe:
Seared sea scallops with garlic mashed potatoes
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: About 6 minutes for scallops; 30 minutes for potatoes
Notes: The recipe for scallops is adapted from one I saw years ago in Bon Appetit. The recipe for mashed potatoes yields enough for extra servings.
10 large sea scallops
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 large cloves of garlic, minced and separated into two equal piles
2 tablespoons Banyuls vinegar (see notes)
2 tablespoons water
6 red potatoes, washed
1/3 cup sour cream
2 ounces cream cheese
3 tablespoons milk
Since scallops cook so quickly, it's best to make the potatoes first.
To make the potatoes: Fill a large pot with warm water and add potatoes. Put pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, let cook for about 10 to 15 minutes. Check the potatoes texture by piercing with a fork. Once they are fork-tender, drain the potatoes and place in a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until just fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour garlic into the mixer with the potatoes.
Turn mixer on low speed, then add in sour cream and cream cheese, increasing speed to medium. Mix until the potatoes start to look mashed, about one minute. Add milk one tablespoon at a time until you reach the consistency you like, adding more milk for a creamier texture. Cover with foil until ready to serve.
To make the scallops: Season the scallops liberally with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium high flames in the same nonstick skillet used to sauté the garlic for the potatoes. Add the scallops and cook until they are golden on each side and opaque in the center, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. About a minute before the scallops are cooked, add the other two tablespoons of minced garlic. Remove the scallop and garlic to a plate.
To make the Banyuls sauce, add the Banyuls vinegar and water to the skillet and turn the heat to medium. Bring the sauce to a boil, about 1 minute, scraping up any little bits in the pan. Drizzle the sauce over the scallops.