Calling all chefs!
May 17, 2009 7:30 AM   Subscribe

Calling all chefs! I would like to make this recipe for dinner tonight. Can I make the bacon/vinegar/cream sauce a couple hours ahead and reconstitute it right before I serve the dish, or will it end up lumpy and weird?

Anon because it's a surprise for someone who might read AskMe.
posted by anonymous to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure it would work out how you like. Think about reheating leftover alfredo sauce and the separation that occurs. What you could do is mix everything up until the point where you start boiling to reduce. That's what I would do, at least.
It looks great, though. Good luck!
posted by monkeymadness at 7:41 AM on May 17, 2009

I've never made this before, but I do think the vinegar might cause the cream to curdle.
Also, cooked scallops won't be very good if you cook them a few hours ahead. (I couldn't tell if you proposed to make the sauce separately ahead of time, or the whole dish, which seems to rely on the sauce being made after the scallops so you can deglaze the pan.)
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:43 AM on May 17, 2009

I don't see why you couldn't make the vinegar, water and mustard reduction ahead of time, just don't add the cream. Reheat, then add the cream per the directions (but you're really only saving about 7 minutes. Don't rush good cooking!)
posted by zerokey at 7:57 AM on May 17, 2009

The only thing I would maybe do ahead of time in that recipe is cook the bacon, and only then if you don't feel a need to clean the pan before dinner. Everything else seems really dependent on the previous step having just happened - you need the bacon drippings in the pan for the scallops, you use the vinegar to deglaze after the scallops, etc. Plus, if you make the sauce without cooking the scallops, you won't have bacon drippings to cook the scallops in, and as CunningLinguist says, cooked scallops don't "hold" well.
posted by donnagirl at 8:10 AM on May 17, 2009

Yeah, if you try to save the whole mixture it will break. If you're not worried about getting the taste from the scallops in the sauce when the pot is deglazed, then you can use Zerokey's method.

Seconding the don't rush good cooking.
posted by schyler523 at 8:12 AM on May 17, 2009

I agree that this one should be made fresh. Maybe you could do the bacon ahead of time but that really won't save you much time at all.

Also, if the surprise guest is your rabbi: rethink.
posted by bink at 8:29 AM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

It may be easier if you substitute green beans for haricots verts.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:56 AM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't substitute green beans for haricots verts. You can prep those ahead of time, though, as well as prepping all of your ingredients. Measure everything out, cut the bacon, trim the beans, and chop the dill. If you can fit it a cookie sheet or other similar tray in your fridge, put all your stuff on it and wrap it up. That way it's all together when you're ready for it. It sounds like a really quick cook time, especially if you have EVERYTHING ready before hand.

Also, warm the plates in the oven. It's a nice gesture and it helps the food stay warm at the table.
posted by cooker girl at 10:36 AM on May 17, 2009

I agree with zerokey, just add the cream as you heat it up to serve. Otherwise... gucccckkk might happen.
posted by Elmore at 10:41 AM on May 17, 2009

This recipe needs to be made when you plan to serve it -- not only do none of the ingredients hold well (the haricot verts will get mushy and army green colored and the scallops will turn into hockey pucks) but trying to hold over a vinegar/cream sauce is pretty much guaranteeing that the sauce will break irreparably.

I understand wanting to save some time, but the way to do that is to make your mis en place (aka, your meez). Pretend you're the star of a cooking show, and pre-prep everything, putting it into appropriately-sized bowls. Measure and chop your herbs, cut your bacon, do everything that doesn't actually involve heat and/or combining.

Then, when it's time to serve the course, whip your meez out of the fridge, do the actual cooking, and look like a hotshit professional, impressing your guests into speechlessness.

I second cooker girl's advice about warming plates -- just put your oven on as low as it will go and stash the plates in there.
posted by Concolora at 10:49 AM on May 17, 2009

Echoing above:

1) You can't make the sauce ahead without cooking the scallops, and cooked scallops do not hold well.

2) I wouldn't make the reduction ahead of time, as part of the deglazing process uses the acid in the vinegar. You can of course deglaze with non-acidic liquids (stocks, water), but acids work better. And by making the reduction, you're removing a lot of the acidity.

3) Absolutely do your prep ahead of time. This is called mise en place, which basically means 'everything in its place'. When doing this, store cut vegetables in damp (not soaking wet) paper towel in the fridge, chopped herbs in ice water in the fridge, and your scallops in a single layer in a pan resting on and covered by dry paper towel. Possibly with the pan resting in a pan of ice. Keeping your scallops nice and dry will keep them fresher and firmer, as well as contributing to a nice seared crust when you cook them (moisture is the enemy of browning).

4) As cooker girl said, the actual cooking time is very, very short. I'd guess no more than about 10-12 minutes start to finish, so having your mise together is even more important.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:58 AM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

Oh, and for warming plates.. 110 Fahrenheit is about the right temp.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:59 AM on May 17, 2009

This recipe is an A la minute sauce; however, with a few modifications, it can be broken down in to components which may make final plating a little less of a engrossing affair. How I might have done something similar to this for line service:
Bacon (part 1):
Start a sautoir on medium-low heat. Cut bacon into 1/4 inch strips (perpendicular to the fat-grain) and thow into pan. Add a little water to help open the pours of the bacon. Cook very slowly - we're rendering here, not pan-frying. Stir occasionally - don't look for it to brown for at least 10 minutes, that means drop the temp if it seems to be moving too fast.

Beans (part 1):
Trim, Cut and place back in fridge.

Wash and remove side muscle. Place back in fridge.

Bacon (part 2):
Bacon should be rendered, remove bacon with slotted spoon and rack. Put rack in fridge. Pour rendered bacon fat into small dish, keep as much of the brown stuff OUT of the fat as possible. Place bacon fat in fridge.

Vinegar/Bacon Sucs
Return pan to heat and use Vinegar and water to deglaze the pan (pour a little, scrape, pour a little scrape). Taste. Add vinegar to proper taste (proper taste should be slightly more vinegar flavor than desired - we'll be incorporating more fat and flavor to balance at service) and reduce. Move to a container.

At service:
1. Start pot of boiling water, salt and vinegar (just a little).
2. Start saucepan of cream, do not bring to a boil - just heat it up.
3. Heat saute pan to med-high. S&P your scallops (preference for white pepper - no one likes scallops that have big black spots).
4. Throw Bacon Fat (from bacon pt2) into the pan and let come to full temp. drop your scallops in the fat and sear. Tilt pan and spoon juices over the scallops. Flip and repeat.
5. Put on beans
6. Remove Scallops from pan, add vinegar mixture. Wisk in mustard (stablizer). Add a little more bacon fat if necessary. Slowly wisk in heated cream and toss in the bacon. TASTE to add Salt & Pepper. The Haricort verts should be done by then, and immediately throw them in as well. Add back the scallops.

While this should save 15-45 minutes in prep time, you've added 30 minutes in dish time.
posted by Nanukthedog at 11:06 AM on May 17, 2009

That's a pretty quick recipe to prepare. If you try to do it in advance, it's going to be much less tasty than it should be. It's just not a recipe that will lend itself to advance preparation. Discretion is the better part of valor here.

Instead, do all of your other prep before your guest arrives - chopping, side dishes, dessert, set the table. Honestly, it'll go pretty fast and you'll have everything hit the table in reasonably short order.
posted by 26.2 at 11:45 AM on May 17, 2009

It's fun to watch someone cook an a la minute dish. Why deprive your guest the opportunity to kick back with a glass of wine while you show off your mise en place, or the chance to compliment you effusively/commiserate while on hold with the pizza dude?
posted by catlet at 6:23 PM on May 17, 2009

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