(adapted from Food 52)
For the Lentils
- 3/4 cup Lentils du Puy, or French green lentils
- 1 carrot, cut in small dice
- 1/2 bulb of fennel, cut in small dice (completely dice a full bulb of fennel, 1/2 will be used here for the lentils, the other half will be used for the fennel cream)
- 1 shallot, finely minced
- 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
- 1/4 pound of slab bacon, cut into lardons (like little batons)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1-2 teaspoons dijon mustard (to taste)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 cups water
- kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste
- 1/2 bulb of fennel, cut in small dice
- 1 tablespoon shallot, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed fennel seed
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
- reserved fennel fronds for garnish
- zest of 1 lemon, micro-planed
- 1 lb Maine Dayboat Scallops, patted dry and seasoned with s&p
- 1 pat of butter or one tablespoon of ghee
1. Rinse the lentils with cold water, check for pebbles or other debris and set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of pan, then add the chopped shallot, garlic, fennel, and carrot. Turn heat to medium low and cook gently until softened and just starting to take color.
3. Add the lentils, water and bay leaf, turn flame to high and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and gently cook for 25-30 minutes, until most (if not all) of the water has evaporated and the lentils are cooked just to al dente.
4. While the lentils are cooking, cook the lardons over medium heat until nicely browned and slightly crisp, but don’t render all their fat, you want them with a little chew. Drain on paper towels and reserve.
5. You can also make the fennel cream while the lentils are cooking. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, cook garlic, fennel, fennel seed, and shallot in a little olive oil until translucent. Add the wine, turn up the heat and reduce until almost all the liquid is gone.
6. Add the chicken stock and reduce in the same manner. Add the cream and reduce by half, remove from heat and let cool slightly.
7. Pour the cream into a blender and mix on high until very smooth. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a small pan, season to taste with salt and pepper and cover to keep warm.
8. When the lentils have finished cooking, strain away any excess water and return the lentils to the saucepan, removing the bay leaf at this time. Add the lardons to the lentils, along with the mustard and butter, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm by the stove.
9. Melt 1 tablespoon butter or ghee in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook scallops for about two minutes on the first side. Then use tongs to look at the side that's been against the pan. If it's nice and brown, flip it. If it's not, put it back and wait until it is.They should cook for between one and two minutes on the first side, and a little less on the other side, depending on how big they are and how hot your pan is. Remove from pan and set aside.
Divide lentils among 4 plates. Arrange 3 scallops atop lentils on each plate. Spoon fennel cream around lentils and scallops and serve decorated with a fresh fennel fond, and lemon zest.