Remember when you were young and in love and used to go out to special restaurants for special occasions with your boyfriend or girlfriend? I remember those days well. Sometimes it seems like yesterday, but it wasn’t.
I was young (a hopelessly in love 26-year-old), naive (not sheltered, but perhaps overly optimistic) and impressionable. And, as you can imagine, my palate was neither very refined nor developed. But I loved food and I could eat!
It was in the early 90’s and there were very few upscale restaurant options in San Antonio, so for birthdays and anniversaries David and I would head to Morton’s Steakhouse. The food was simple, but prepared well and we knew what to expect.
Perhaps their presentation is a bit over-the-top (we respectfully asked them not to do their “dog and pony show” for us after the first visit), but we did get attached to one of the appetizers a waiter suggested on one of our first few visits.
When we prepare this dish at home, we get nostalgic and fondly recall our “dates” to Morton’s. The dark wood and the dark room created a romantic ambiance. The wine would make us giddy and the food satiated us greatly.
The dish I am referring to is their broiled sea scallop appetizer. Wrapped in bacon and grilled to perfection, three big scallops arrive on a bed of sauteed spinach. An apricot-horseradish sauce accompanies the dish and it all works like magic.
Every bite must contain a little bit of everything for you to appreciate the wonder of it all. Clearly, we would split the last scallop but secretly wish the other person would not want it, though that has never happened.
Now we make it at home and we each get four big Baja scallops from Groomer’s. No more fighting over the last scallop, but we do get to fight over who does the dishes.
Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Sea Scallops with Sauteed Spinach and Apricot-Horseradish Sauce
- 6-8 large sea scallops approximately 1 lb.
- 4-6 pieces applewood smoked bacon or your choice of bacon
- olive oil
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- lemon juice
- 1 bunch spinach washed well and the big leaves destemmed, if necessary
- 1/3 cup apricot preserves or jelly
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish or to taste (I used 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons but my apricot Simply Fruit by Smucker's seemed to be quite sweet and I like my sauce spicy)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice fresh squeezed
- Freshly ground black pepper
To make the scallops and spinach:
Cut the bacon pieces in half and wrap each scallop with a piece of bacon. It may not reach all the way around on some of the larger scallops, but don't worry about it, because a skewer will keep it in place.
Thread 3-4 bacon-wrapped scallops onto a flat metal skewer piercing the bacon to keep it in place. Sprinkle olive oil, salt and pepper and lemon juice on the scallops.
Grill over a hot charcoal fire or a gas grill until the bacon is cooked, about 5-7 minutes each side.
Quickly saute the spinach while the scallops are grilling. This should take just a few minutes. Lightly salt the spinach and add a few grinds of fresh black pepper. Drain any water off the spinach before serving.
You want the scallops to be sort of medium-rare in the center. Remove from the grill and serve over sauteed spinach with a side of apricot-horseradish sauce.
To make the apricot-horseradish sauce:
In a small bowl, stir together the apricot preserves or jelly with the horseradish and lemon juice until combined. Taste to see if it needs any more horseradish or lemon juice to balance the flavors. You want this sauce to have some horseradish kick to it, but just enough and not too much, so balance here is critical.
Top with a few grinds of fresh black pepper and serve with the grilled bacon-wrapped sea scallops over sauteed spinach.