When I was younger I used to detest butter. How that is possible, I’m not sure, but the richness used to make my stomach turn. I pretty much refused to have it in any form until our mom made me a brown butter balsamic sauce to coat some butternut squash ravioli. This was a game-changer. Although at the time I didn’t yet appreciate the wonder that is brown butter, I could tell right off the bat that the balsamic addition was a match-made in heaven. Throw in a little sage and you get the best flavors that play off each other.
I recently realized that risotto would be the perfect opportunity to incorporate this trio. You need the brown butter to lightly toast the arborio rice, the necessary acidity can come from the balsamic, and an herb like sage always adds something.
You’ll start by browning the butter. By adding the halved sage leaves to the butter it really incorporates the flavor into the butter, which is then livened up by the white balsamic. Our mom recently got me a bottle of white balsamic vinegar, which I had never previously tried, but I absolutely love it. It has that same umami flavor as regular balsamic but it's a little sweeter/thicker, and not quite as acidic.
After that you can go ahead and get going on your risotto. While risotto sometimes has a negative connotation because it can be time consuming, it actually should come together in roughly 25 minutes and it is always SO worth it. Plus, you get a little arm workout in with the stirring. Also, if I haven't convinced you yet, your free non-stirring hand is totally available to hold a nice glass of white wine to enjoy while you stir.
After you make the glorious and cheesy risotto, the scallops are a walk in the park. You just want to make sure they have a nice sear which helps bring out all the flavor. Although scallops can be expensive, when added as an addition to a main meal, you really don't need a large quantity. Even just a few will add so much to the dish.
Then it's as easy as stirring the reserved brown butter, some parmesan cheese (obviously), and a little chopped sage into your risotto, and topping with the scallops.
I find that a drizzle of the white balsamic and the addition of the reserved sage leaves on top, add both to the texture and the flavor. And then you'll (obviously) add some additional parmesan. I use the term "some" loosely.
Easy, indulgent and so delicious. Pour a cold glass of white wine and enjoy.
Risotto with scallops made with the winning trio of brown butter, balsamic, and sage.
1. Place a small saucepan over medium heat and add 3 tablespoons of butter. Once butter is melted, add halved sage leaves. Stir until sage leaves begin to fry, then remove them with a slotted spoon to a plate. Continue stirring the butter consistently until it begins to brown and smell toasty, and golden flakes form at the bottom of the pan. Stir in 2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar and remove from heat. Set aside.
2. Add broth to a medium saucepan and place over low heat. In a separate medium to large saucepan, melt remaining tablespoon of butter. Add chopped onion and cook over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 additional minutes until fragrant.
3. Add the arborio rice and stir for 2-3 minutes until it begins to turn translucent and starts to toast slightly. Add the white wine and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, 3-5 minutes.
4. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth and simmer, stirring until it is absorbed. Continue adding 1/2 cup amounts at a time, stirring until absorbed after each addition. After 20-25 minutes rice should be cooked through yet still pourable. Add additional broth if needed. Turn to very low while you make the scallops.
5. Pat scallops dry and season with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat until shimmering. Add scallops and sear for 2-3 minutes until golden. Flip and sear for an additional 2-3 minutes. Cook in batches if needed.
6. Stir the reserved brown butter into the risotto, season with kosher salt and black pepper, then stir in parmesan cheese and chopped sage.
7. Serve immediately, drizzled with remaining 2 teaspoons of white balsamic, and topped with reserved sage leaves and additional parmesan cheese.
You can definitely use regular balsamic vinegar if you don't have white, white just has a little bit of a sweeter and lighter taste.
I find 5-6 scallops per person is good for this risotto so the quantity in ounces may vary depending on the size of the scallops you're buying.
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