There is something ridiculously sensuous about scallops — they are buttery and soft … and when wrapped in the purity of a well-smoked, naturally cured slice of bacon, you go from sensuous to sinful again. There is a reason this is such a classic pairing — that and because it borders on mindlessly easy. Fact is, you can prepare this more quickly than a prepackaged box of macaroni and cheese.
What makes this simple pairing unique in this case are a few simple twists. First, I used the pure bacon fat from the rendering of the bacon (see below) to ‘oil’ the scallops and infuse a bit more smokiness into them. Secondly, was my decision to grill half a lemon at the same time. This technique caramelizes the inherent sugars of the lemon and gives you the ‘zest’ with a hint of sweet that just makes the scallops pop. Finally, because the bacon has a longer cooking time than the scallops, par-cooking the bacon before wrapping the scallops ensures both are cooked perfectly.
I’ll admit that my decision to use two bamboo skewers to stick the bacon was a bit of miss. I was thinking ahead to the final presentation and neglected to consider how I was going to position the bacon on the grill without setting the skewers on fire. Anyway, learn from that mistake and the good ideas above and enjoy a bit of surf and turf this summer.
Prep time: 5-7 minutes
Cook time: 10-12 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4-8 … or as many scallops as you buy
Bacon-Wrapped Scallops with Grilled Lemon
- 4-8 sea scallops
→ not too large or the bacon won’t wrap
- 4-8 strips of naturally smoked bacon
→ not too fatty or it will fall apart during cooking
- 1 lemon
- balsamic vinegar (garnish)
- 4-8 metal or bamboo skewers (soaked in water)
Note: Buy equal numbers of scallops and bacon and plan to serve 1-2 per person as an appetizer.
- Pre-heat a barbeque to high heat (400ºF) and take out scallops from fridge 15 minutes before starting and, if using bamboo skewers, soak them in water.
- Prepare small serving plates with drops of balsamic around the edges.
- Line a microwave-safe plate with paper towel and then lay 4 strips of bacon side-by-side, making sure they’re not touching (or they’ll cook to each other). Place another paper towel on top of the bacon and tuck in the edges. Place in microwave and cook on high for about 2 minutes. Remove and without lifting the paper towel, flip over the paper towels (with bacon still between sheets). Return to microwave and cook for 1 minute more. Remove bacon for paper and set aside. Bacon will be ‘cooked’ (pink) but still flexible and not ‘stiff’ or hard.
→ Keep paper towel as it is loaded with the rendered bacon fat.
- Repeat for additional bacon.
- Wrap each scallop with a piece of bacon so that, ideally, the bacon overlaps just an inch — skewer the bacon to itself and through the scallop with a skewer. Repeat for all scallops.
- Using the paper towel from the bacon, squeeze out some of the rendered bacon fat over the scallops ensuring they’re well-covered with fat. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
- Slice the lemon in half and, if you’re feeling particularly decadent, smear some bacon fat on the cut side of the lemon you’re going to grill.
- To grill the scallops and the lemon, lay the scallops on the grill on their sides (bacon side down), and grill for 4 minutes on one side; turn and grill for another 4 minutes. Now turn the scallops and lay them flat on the grill (i.e. not on their sides) and grill for another 6-7 minutes — one side only. At the same time, place the lemon on the grill, cut-side down, and grill for about 8 minutes in total, until the lemon is well-browned but not burnt. Remove.→ Scallops are done when opaqueness just disappears and/or when, with a knife or fork, you can just start to separate the flakes.
- Serve the scallops onto the prepared serving plates and lightly squeeze a bit of lemon juice over each scallop.
- Serve and watch for the smiles.
Wine Pairing: While a Chardonnay is a classic pairing with the butteriness of the scallop, I’d instead recommend a semi-dry Riesling or, for more fun and to get your dinner party going, try a nice Italian Prosecco. In this beautiful summer weather, a good Rosé would be another excellent choice. These other wines will bring out the sweetness of the grilled lemon a bit more.