Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Maple Syrup Scallops

When Sugar Maple trees sprout buckets here in New England, it can only mean one thing--it's maple sugaring season.

The New England tradition of boiling sap to make maple syrup and sugar originated with the region's Native American population. Today, New England continues to produce some of the sweetest syrup and maple products on the market. The maple sugaring season only lasts about four to six weeks, from mid-February through late March when days turn warm, nights remain cold, and the sap starts to flow.

So when my good friend Tracy graced me with some of their own freshly tapped amber maple syrup, I decided to try this recipe I clipped out from a reader of our newspaper a few weeks back. The results--awesome! We just love scallops, but I just couldn't get past the 'sweet' portion of this recipe. My usual way to prepare them is seared, baked or fried. These tender scallops were nothing short of amazing. The maple syrup thickened and penetrated the briney-sweet scallops, making them a perfect foil for the side salad that was served and the panko crumbs gave a nice crunch to the dish and a perfect texture with the maple sauce.

I'm so glad I tried this recipe, because it will be made over and over again. Thanks for sharing this with us Anita. If your a scallops lover, I hope you'll enjoy this recipe also. Enjoy!

Anita's Maple Syrup Scallops

1 pound sea scallops (make sure you buy them dry and not wet, as wet have been soaked in water and will not brown as readily in the pan.

3/4 cup maple syrup

1 tsp. cracked black pepper

1/8 cup olive oil (not extra virgin, as it will smoke)

½ cup panko breadcrumbs

Remove scallops from fridge and pat them dry between two paper towels. Place scallops in Tupperware bowl with lid. Add maple syrup, black pepper and pinch of salt. Cover and shake, then refrigerate. Let marinate two hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a small casserole dish or gratin dish with cooking spray.

Preheat olive oil in a large saute pan. When oil is shimmery, add scallops and saute until sauce begins to thicken and scallops start to brown, no more than 3-5 minutes.

Pour scallops and pan sauce into gratin and cover with panko crumbs. Bake uncovered for 5-7 minutes until the panko crumbs are browned. Serve immediately.