In December, all eyes are on the lights. We’re focused on the glitter of the holidays, the glow of annual gatherings, all that twinkles during this crazy, busy, magical season. Even our meal planning and cooking tend to turn outward this month: cocktail parties, baked goods, holiday feasts. I treasure the happy crush of a crowded kitchen—but I have also learned that some of the holiday season’s sweetest moments are the ones we often overlook.
I treasure the happy crush of a crowded kitchen, but I’ve learned that some of the season’s sweetest moments are the ones we overlook.
In a time where someone, something is ever tugging on us, it feels a little strange to put the phone away and pour a glass of wine just for yourself. It might not come naturally to skip your Monday night workout in favor of a slow stroll through the market, following your eyes and not your grocery list. And having the fishmonger wrap up a package of scallops for no special reason might stand out in a season where “special” is usually intended for others. But why spend all the celebration on the sparkle of your busy calendar? Can’t a quiet weeknight in early winter be occasion enough to put out the china and cook a lavish meal?
Citrus-seared scallops pop off the plate and in your mouth in one complex burst of sweetness—orange grove sweet then ocean sweet, followed, perhaps, by the pleasing umami crunch of bacon. The clink of fork against plate, the swirl of straw-colored wine in your glass, the candle burning down while you linger at the table—winter’s gifts, all of them. This season, be present for them
Citrus-Seared Scallops with Bacon
- 8–10 fresh sea scallops
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into lardons
- 2 navel oranges, divided
- 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp. honey
- Zest of one navel orange
- Large handful of micro greens
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- Pat scallops very dry with a paper towel. Season both sides generously with kosher salt and freshly-cracked pepper.
- Add bacon lardons to a cold, heavy-bottomed skillet. Bring heat up to medium and cook bacon until golden brown and crispy, turning as needed. Remove bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon, reserving the fat in the skillet.
- While bacon cooks, zest one orange and then juice it. Whisk together orange juice, zest, apple cider vinegar, honey, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Set aside. Supreme the remaining orange and reserve segments.
- Return the skillet to medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add scallops and sear for 2–3 minutes. Flip and sear the other side for another 2 minutes. Divide scallops between two plates.
- Working quickly, pour orange juice mixture into the hot skillet. Stir to loosen any browned bits for one minute; then spoon the reduced sauce over the scallops on each plate. Top with a handful of orange segments, crispy bacon, and micro greens.
Adapted from recipes by Susan Spungen and Tyler Florence.