Seared Scallops with Brown Butter Caper Sauce
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
1 pound sea scallops *
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons capers, drained
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Brown the butter: Cut up the butter into pieces (a tablespoon each or so) and place in a stainless steel saucepan. Melt the butter on medium heat. Allow the butter to foam up and recede. Watch carefully. After a few minutes, the milk solids will form and sink to the bottom. Once the milk solids begin to turn caramel-colored brown, the butter will have a lovely nutty aroma. Remove from heat and pour the browned butter into a separate bowl to stop the cooking. (Pay attention! If you wait too long, you'll have blackened butter, not browned butter.) Set aside. Remove "foot" and pat dry scallops: Remove the "foot" of the scallop from each scallop. (The foot is a small tough piece of meat that attaches the scallop to the shell.) Pat dry the scallops. Sear the scallops on both sides on high heat: Heat the oil in a cast iron pan or hard-anodized aluminum sauté pan on high heat. When the oil is shimmery hot, pat dry the scallops again and carefully place them in the pan, flat side down. You may need to work in batches so you don't crowd the pan. Once you've placed the scallops in the pan, do not move them. Allow them to sear. Once you can see that the edges of the scallops touching the pan have browned, use tongs to turn the scallops over and sear the other side. Depending on the size of the scallops and the heat of your burner, this should take 3 to 4 minutes per side. Once both sides are browned, remove the scallops to a warm plate, and turn off the burner. Deglaze pan with white wine: Pour out the remaining oil from the pan, leaving any browned bits in the pan. Add the white wine to the pan and return the pan to the burner on high heat. Let the wine boil and reduce until you have 2 tablespoons of liquid left in the pan. Add capers, lemon zest, brown butter: Then turn off the heat, add the capers, lemon zest, and brown butter to the pan. Swirl to combine. Serve scallops with sauce: Place scallops on serving plates and pour sauce over them. Serve immediately.