CHEF ETHAN HOLMES PAIRS STELLA BERRY WITH PAN-ROASTED SCALLOPS AT MATTIE’S IN AUSTIN
story by Eric Marsh / photos by Robert G. Gomez
Pairing sweet wine with savory dishes can be adventurous and sometimes even daring for chefs, beverage directors, and diners alike. Beyond the classic pairing of French Sauternes with foie gras, sweet wines rarely show up before dessert in multi-course meals. To create fare that pairs well with this category, it helps if the dish itself has sweet components, but it can’t be too saccharine, or wedding the two will result in a cloying experience.
Seeking to strike this careful balance, Executive Chef Ethan Holmes of Mattie’s in Austin, Texas, created a pan-roasted scallop dish with celeriac mousseline, pickled strawberries, and serrano chutney to pair with Stella Rosa’s Stella Berry expression. “Pairing sweet wine with savory dishes can be a challenge because it’s difficult to bring out the acidity in the wine,” Holmes said. “Scallops are naturally sweet and I knew after I tasted Stella Berry that they would work well for this dish. As the name suggests, Stella Berry is fruit-forward, which is where the strawberries came in. There’s also vinegar in the serrano chutney, which brought out the acid in the wine, and then Stella Berry’s long finish nicely tempered the heat from the serrano.”
When asked to identify other savory dishes that might go well with Stella Berry, Holmes suggested spicy-salty foods, smoked meats and vegetables, fried chicken, and grilled backyard fare. It’s not hard to guess why backyards are on the chef’s mind: Mattie’s is situated in a 19th-century Victorian house on the Green Pastures 10-acre estate, where oak trees abound and white-feathered peacocks roam freely. Located just six minutes from the capitol building, it’s an idyllic urban refuge where one can enjoy contemporary Southern fare before going for a post-dinner stroll under the oaks.
Pan-Roasted Scallops with Parsnip-Celeriac Mousseline, Pickled Strawberries, Serrano Chutney, Bitter Greens, and Crispy Shallots
Courtesy of Executive Chef Ethan Holmes, Mattie’s Restaurant, Austin, TX
- 16 U10 scallops, patted dry
- Salt to taste
- 4 Tbsp. grapeseed oil or another high-smoke-point oil
- 1 lb. celeriac, peeled and diced
- 1 lb. parsnips, peeled and diced
- 2 oz. butter
- 8 oz. heavy cream
- Salt to taste
- 1 cup red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
- 12 oz. strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced crosswise
- 1 cup Sherry vinegar
- 1 tsp. mustard seeds
- 1 garlic clove, sliced thin
- 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 3 oz. serrano peppers, sliced thin
- Ginger, freshly grated
- 2 Tbsp. shallots, minced
- 2 cups baby Swiss chard
- 1 cup baby kale
- 1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Crispy fried shallots for plated garnish
Pour red wine vinegar, sugar, and vanilla bean paste into a small nonreactive bowl and whisk to dissolve the sugar. Add the strawberry slices and toss to coat. Place the mixture into an airtight container and let macerate and pickle for at least 1 hour.
Add Sherry vinegar, mustard seeds, garlic, ginger, and brown sugar into a small saucepan. Heat until the brown sugar is dissolved, then remove from heat and set aside to cool. Once cool, add the sliced serrano chilis. Reserve at room temperature until ready to serve.
Add celeriac, parsnip, butter, and heavy cream to a saucepan. Bring the cream to a simmer and cook the celeriac and parsnips until tender. Once tender, drain the celeriac and parsnips and reserve liquid. Puree the celeriac and parsnips in a food processor, then slowly add the cream until the mixture is smooth. Season with salt, set aside, and keep warm.
Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat and add oil. Quickly sauté the shallots before adding and sautéing the greens. Add the cider vinegar and allow it to steam and wilt the greens. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drain the wilted greens on a dry paper towel and keep warm before plating.
Place a cast-iron pan over medium-high heat while you season the scallops with salt. Add 4 Tbsp. of neutral/high smoke point oil to the pan, then quickly add the seasoned scallops and sear to caramelize (about 2 minutes). Gently flip the scallops over and sear the other side (another 1-2 minutes). Remove the seared scallops to drain on a paper towel and keep warm before plating.
Plating the Dish
Spread the celeriac-parsnip puree on the bottom of four warm plates. Lay the braised greens over the puree and arrange some of the pickled strawberries around the plate. Place small dollops of the serrano chutney near the strawberry slices and place the scallops over the greens. Finish by drizzling some of the pickled strawberry liquid on the plate while sprinkling some of the crispy shallots on top.