When one of Chef Brian Ferguson's young cooks wanted to leave his restaurant, 98 South in downtown Chandler, to move out of Arizona for the first time in his life and cook in Oregon, Ferguson said, "Take-off young man, go see the world!"
"That's what the guys that brought me up taught me," he says.
He's referring to three different chefs -- two in Virginia who mentored him when he was first out of culinary school, and another in Lyon, France, where he studied for a year at Pierre Orsi.
When he was in France, he says, "the chef would bring me to the market at 3, 4 in the morning where we bought fish and rabbit with the fur still on and beautiful cheeses."
"It was very, very eye-opening," he says.
Now, he takes his "platoon" of cooks, all hand-picked from a large pool of applicants, to the farmers' market in Chandler every Thursday.
"As a group, [we] walk around like little ducklings, and stay together and taste stuff," he says. "I try to do things to keep my cooks inspired and to keep them interested in the job."
Well, we may not be cooks, but Ferguson's inspiring us today with his mouthwatering recipe for seared scallops with a sweet corn and vanilla bean sauce.
Bon appetit! (Serves 4)
12 dry-pack scallops, the larger the better (we use U-10's) 2-3 ears sweet corn, white or yellow, removed from the cob 1 each bay leaf ½ teaspoon minced garlic ½ teaspoon dry white wine 1 pint heavy cream 1 tablespoon white roux 1 each Tahitian vanilla bean, or other high quality bean Salt and white pepper to taste
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White Roux: With equal parts flour and butter, melt butter in a pan and slowly whisk in flour.
Sauce preparation: In a heavy-bottom sauce pot, sweat the shallot and garlic lightly. Add the corn and stir to incorporate the ingredients, and try not to brown the vegetables. Add the wine to deglaze and reduce by half. Add the heavy cream, salt and pepper and the split, scraped vanilla beans. Bring to a simmer and whisk in the roux. Simmer sauce until the cream coats the back of a spoon. Reserve warm.
Scallops: Heat a Teflon sauté pan to medium-high heat. Season the scallops with Kosher salt and white pepper. Add a small amount of quality oil to the pan and sear the scallops. They are ready to turn when you see a small amount of white on the cooking side of the scallop and it is lightly browned. At this point, put the scallops in a hot oven (450 degrees) for 1-2 minutes to sear the other side and also cook the scallop through. (If you are using smaller scallops the oven may not be necessary.)
Plating: Spoon the sauce onto a platter or plates, and place the scallops over the sauce. Garnish with a small salad that has some acidity to the dressing, such as lemon juice or white balsamic vinegar.