A Squared: What's For Dinner Wednesday: Pancetta Baked Scallops

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Pancetta Baked Scallops

Sometimes I run out of creative ways to prepare seafood. It's not as versatile as chicken or pork and since I only make fish for dinner once a week at the most, I sometimes feel a little creatively stifled... and end up making the same handful of recipes all the time. Recently though, Alex requested scallops for dinner and I had a flashback of these delicious baked scallops that my mom made once when I was visiting and I decided to try my hand at the recipe.

When my mom sent the recipe I realized that it was very similar to Shrimp DeJonghe, a breaded shrimp dish baked in a garlic wine butter sauce made famous here in Chicago in the early twentieth century. It's a simple, but delicious way to prepare shrimp and works equally well with the scallops in this recipe. Baking and breading it keeps the seafood tender and juicy and infuses some great flavor into it.

The original version of this recipe featured the simple, yet tried and true combination of scallops topped with vermouth, lemon juice, butter, garlic powder, and crushed Ritz crackers. I gave the recipe a little update, first swapping the vermouth for Sauvignon Blanc because I hate buying a whole bottle of alcohol that I won't use when only a little bit is required for a recipe. I then swapped the Ritz crackers for crunchy panko and added fresh garlic and thyme for a punch of flavor in the topping.

The real game changer in this recipe though, is the addition of pancetta. The pancetta is sauteed in the pan before the scallops and the rest of the ingredients are added, so the savory saltiness is rendered into the pan and the scallops cook in it and take on that flavor... it's just delicious. And after baking that pancetta adds a nice crispiness to the tender scallops.

This is a pretty easy dinner to make. We enjoyed it for a Sunday dinner, but it would be a great one to serve at a dinner party as well.

  • 2 oz. pancetta, diced
  • 1/2 lb. scallops
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • 1/2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbs. dry white wine *I prefer Sauvignon Blanc in this one

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a cast iron skillet (or other oven-safe pan) over medium high heat. Add pancetta and saute until golden and crispy. Remove pan from heat and immediately add butter to melt. Swirl in olive oil and set aside.

Wash the scallops and pat dry with a paper towel. Add the scallops to the skillet and place them about 1/2-inch apart.

Ina small bowl, combine Parmesan and remaining 7 ingredients (through white wine). Stir inSpoon the mixture over the top of the scallops and drizzle lightly with olive oil.

Cover and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Optional: Broil for 3-5 minutes for a crispier topping.

Remove from oven and serve hot.

A Squared


  1. This sounds fantastic! I've always loved the scallop/pancetta combination, so I'm definitely going to have to give this recipe a try!

  2. The pancetta really adds something special to this-- enjoy!!

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