Ohh scallops...they can be frightening to those of us who do not venture into the world of seafood. However, many people love them, and that is why this is a very popular dinner entree at the Laundry.
Ours are jumbo sea scallops on a bed of orzo pasta flavored with saffron and pancetta bacon, and drizzled with a pumpkin beurre blanc. Reading that from the menu, I wonder what a few of this ingredients are; such as saffron, pancetta, and orzo.
I learned from Chef Jody that orzo is actually pasta, not rice, although it could easily be mistaken. Orzo is often mistakenly referred to as "Italian Rice". In the past, orzo was made from barley, which is where it finds it's name; orzo means barley in Italian.
Saffron is pretty interesting stuff as well. It is a spice derived from the saffron crocus. Saffron has long been the worlds most expensive spice, and it is native to Southwest Asia. Saffron has crocin in it, a carotenoid dye, which adds a yellow hue to the orzo in this dish.
Pancetta is a type of dry, cured meat, similar to bacon. It is pork belly (the same as bacon) that has been cured and spiced, and dried for about three months. The main difference between bacon and pancetta is that pancetta is not smoked, and bacon always is smoked.
I thought this entree was very interesting. The scallops were intimidating at first, and I was genuinely surprised when I found them very easy to eat. They are extremely tender and are cut easily with a fork. My favorite part of this dish was the orzo...the flavors from the saffron and pancetta were like nothing I have had before. The pumpkin beurre blanc was a great addition to not only the scallops but the flavors in the orzo as well.
After having this entree I am no longer afraid of scallops, and might even eat them again....