HAZELNUT-CRUSTED MAINE SEA SCALLOPS NETTLES, SWISS CHARD
FEW CREATURES of the sea offer as much versatility, texture, and taste as our Maine sea scallops. We love to serve them raw, barely cooked, or, as in this dish, encrusted with a morel and hazelnut mélange to concentrate more of a toasty flavor onto the sweet mollusk. With Swiss chard, grassy nettle foam, and peppery paper-thin nettle chips, we balance the marine foundation with fresh woodsy flavors.
To clean the morels, submerge them in a bowl of cold water, leave for 2 minutes, strain from the top, and repeat until the water that settles at the bottom is clear. Strain and pat dry with a towel. Melt the butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat and add the shallot. Cook, stirring, until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the morels, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the vermouth and reduce until almost dry. Add the chicken stock and simmer until the morels are cooked and the liquid has reduced to a glaze, about 12 minutes. Add the chicken jus and toss. Check the seasoning and set aside 12 pieces for garnish; use the rest for the crust. Reserve, chilled.
For the Hazelnut and Morel Crust
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade, pulse the sautéed morels and hazelnuts until coarse. Add the butter, breadcrumbs, and mustard and pulse until combined. Scoop the mixture onto a sheet of parchment paper. Using the paper as an aid, roll the mixture into a log the diameter of the scallops and freeze until hardened.
For the Nettle Foam
Pour the chicken stock into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the shallot. Cook, stirring, until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the nettle leaves and stir until wilted. Transfer the nettles to a blender with the hot stock, the heavy cream, and the soy lecithin, and puree until smooth. Pass through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl set over ice. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to chill.
For the Swiss Chard
Separate the leaves from the stems of the Swiss chard and roughly chop the leaves. Peel the tough skin from the thicker ends of the stems and cut them on a bias into at least twelve ½-inch diamonds.
Place the stems in a small sauté pan with the butter, chicken stock, garlic, and thyme. Cook over medium heat until the stock and butter have reduced to a glaze and the stems are tender. Add the leaves and toss until wilted, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper; discard the garlic and thyme and keep warm.
Preheat the broiler to medium-high. Transfer the chicken jus to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.
Pat the scallops dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sear both sides of the scallops, about 20 seconds each, and transfer them to an aluminum foil–lined baking sheet. Cut -inch slices from the hazelnut and morel crust and place them on top of the scallops. Broil the scallops until the crust is lightly browned and the scallops are cooked.
Transfer the foam to a small saucepan and heat to 170°F. Position a hand blender head just below the surface of the liquid and blend to produce a light foam.
For each serving, place a spoonful of Swiss chard greens with 3 pieces of stem on the bottom of a warm appetizer plate. Top with 2 scallops and spoon a dollop of foam around them. Arrange 3 morels, 3 nettle chips, and 3 miner’s lettuce leaves around the scallops. Drizzle a spoonful of chicken jus on the plate.