This week Celebrity Chef from Ready Steady Cook & Fellow Master Chef Steven Saunders, proprietor of The Little Geranium in La Cala cooks for X Factor celebrity Chico, a special scallop dish!
REGULAR readers will know that Chico is often over here with us in our restaurant because he is a close friend. However, it’s been a year or so since he was here as lockdown prevented us all from travelling, so I was really delighted to see his friendly smiley face!
The simple words What time is it? It’s Chico time! is remembered across the world as the catchphrase of my friend Chico Slimani (born Yousseph Slimani). Wherever we go I hear people calling out… What time is it? And because Chico is a born entertainer and people pleaser, he always responds with shouting back… It’s Chico time!! And has a laugh, a dance and a picture taken with them.
In the earlier days when I was one of the chefs on TV’s Ready Steady Cook, I would stand next to him in shock that so many people knew and loved that catchphrase. People love Chico, he had a No1 hit single knocking Madonna off the No1 spot in 2006 and everyone seems to remember it!
I first met Chico at the Hell’s Kitchen TV recording in about 2007. I was going through a divorce and went with a new girlfriend. I wandered over to the seating plan to see where we were going to sit and with whom. At the event, there were many well-known people not least Chef Marco Pierre White, and in the kitchen working as Marco’s commis chef was Anthea Turner who I knew well.
Anthea spotted me and called out. I went over and she asked if I knew a chocolate mousse recipe because hers had not set. Marco shouted out at her and back into the kitchen she hurried. As I turned around Chico was behind me, he said, “we are on your table bro!” So, I replied…” what time is it?” (as you do!) Chico laughed out loud and we became close friends from that day and have always spent quality time together whenever we possibly can.
Chico’s wife Danielle, is lovely and so intelligent. She really is a mine of information and she keeps my boy Chico on the rails. Their two children La La and Zac are also heading for fame. La La literally has the voice of an angel, she is only 14 and been accepted into the BRIT school (responsible for stars like Adele and many others).
It’s a very special music school and pretty impossible to get in so La La has already been recognized and is on her journey, she is definitely one to look out for! The brief story behind Chico’s scallops is that Chef Raymond Blanc cooked me a scallop in its shell with a pastry lid. It was beautiful but the pity was that I couldn’t eat the pastry on the top because he had covered the top scallop shell with the pastry and it was glued to it.
When I got back to my Geranium restaurant in Cambridge, I recreated the dish replacing the top shell with just a pastry lid and cooked it until crispy. I also changed the sauce to contain truffles. The textures of the crisp pastry and soft baked scallop underneath with creamy truffle sauce are divine! Raymond even admitted that mine was a better version! He said in his soft, sexy French accent…” Steven, you cook from the heart and I love that about you!”
A few years ago, I served the scallop dish up to Chico and his adorable family as a tasting course, they all said… “Wow!” So, it became the dish that Chico loved most and I renamed it Chico time Scallops. So, this week I am letting you into the secret recipe. Scallops cooked in their shells, with truffle sauce… Enjoy!
Chico time Scallops!
Ingredients for four:
4 large fresh hand-dived scallops in their shell (available from the fish markets)
1 large leek, washed and cleaned
200g salted butter
light Olive oil
A tablespoon of chopped fresh dill
½ glass of Champagne or cava
2 teaspoons of truffle pieces (available from supermarkets)
A drizzle of truffle oil
Approximately 300g of ready-made puff pastry
2 egg yolks
A little Maldon salt
Firstly, prepare the scallops by prizing open the shells with a small knife or oyster knife and remove the flatter of the two halves of the shell. This leaves you the scallop sitting in the deeper shell with all the roe and membrane.
Remove the roe and membrane with your fingers carefully and wash under cold water. You should now be able to remove the membrane leaving the red roe intact. Reserve the roe and discard the membrane.
Now carefully remove the scallops using a small palette knife and briefly rinse in cold water. Clean the shells or put them in the dishwasher.
Chop the washed leek very finely and fry in a pre-heated pan with half of the butter. Season with a little salt and as they soak up the butter now add the cava. Add the chopped dill and finally stir in the truffle pieces. Reserve this mix.
In a dry, preheated frying pan heated at full temperature add a little olive oil and seal the scallops for a little colour add the remaining butter and now add the roes.
Cook both on one side only for about 30 seconds to one minute, no more.
Remove season and drain on tissue paper.
Line up the scallop shells and divide the leek mixture between them evenly. Place the seared scallop coloured side upwards on top of the leek mix and the roe next to it. Drizzle them with the truffle oil.
Roll out the pastry to approx. 2mm. and cover the scallop shells with the pastry. Cut around the pastry so that you have four shells neatly covered in pastry sealed by squeezing the pastry to the shell.
Brush the pastry with the egg yolk and season the top with Maldon salt.
The scallops can be kept like this in the fridge for up to 12 hours.
Bake in a preheated oven 200c until the pastry is lightly golden
Serve them explaining to the guests that they can pull back the pastry and add a little of the creamy truffle sauce, for the full taste experience.
For the Truffle sauce:
300ml of thick cream
1 white onion chopped
2 cloves garlic peeled and sliced finely
100g salted butter
4 teaspoons of truffle pieces
1 tablespoon truffle oil
Simply bring the cream to the boil and add the onion and garlic. Simmer until the cream is nice and thick and add the butter and whisk in.
Now pass the sauce through a sieve into a clean pan to remove the garlic and onion pieces.
Finally, add the truffle pieces to the sauce and whisk in and then add the truffle oil. You can keep the sauce warm on the stove until needed. When needed pour into a small jug and serve poured over the scallops, when the pastry lid is lifted.
Follow Steven on Instagram ….@saunderschef
The Little Geranium, Winner of Best International Restaurant Spain…2020