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story.lead_photo.caption Pan-seared scallops on creamy risotto. (Handout/TNS)

One of our favorite dishes is pan-seared scallops. On the healthy protein meter, scallops are considered one of the leanest, if not the leanest form of pure protein in the culinary world. The problem is if you can't buy them fresh, finding good ones can be a bit dicey. A lot of them are injected with a preservative and saline solution and then frozen. The end result is when you try to sear them after thawing them out, they basically steam themselves, which eliminates the nice pan-seared crust you want on a scallop. And they seem a bit rubbery.

But good news!

Of late when they are available, Liz has been finding frozen scallops at Aldi's that perform beautifully, and they are very reasonably priced. If you see them, grab them and follow these instructions. Another sourcing option might be a local specialty meat shop as sometimes they carry fresh frozen seafood. Let's get started.

The first thing we do is allow the scallops to thaw out, which will release some liquid. I then set the scallops on a plate with paper towel both underneath and on top of the scallops. I push down lightly on the scallops from the top to release more fluid and maximize dryness. Then I season both sides with sea salt, coarsely ground black pepper and granulated garlic. On the side burner of the gas grill, I heat a couple teaspoons of olive oil with a small slice of butter over medium-high heat in a cast iron skillet. I do this outside because it does splatter a bit, and I don't like cleaning the gas range if possible. Place the scallops on the skillet. You should hear a nice "sizzle."

Now here's one key. Let them sizzle for a couple of minutes. This will allow the scallops to become encrusted and then "release" from the skillet. If you try to move them too quickly they will stick and you will lessen the likelihood of a nice sear. Now turn them and allow to cook for another couple of minutes. You should end up with a nice sear on both sides. Once they are cooked you will want to serve them immediately as they get cool quick.

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Prior to searing the scallops we made some creamy risotto (you can also use creamed cauliflower to limit carbs) which the scallops were served on top of. For the vegetable, we picked some kale from the garden and quickly sauted it with crushed garlic, salt and pepper in olive oil.

You couple spice up the kale with red pepper flakes. We held off on adding the garlic until the kale had been sauted for two to three minutes or so as not to burn the garlic. The saluting of the kale takes no more than five minutes or so over medium-high heat. Enjoy!

Dave Lobeck is a financial advisor by day and a BBQ enthusiast on nights and weekends. He is also a Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) judge. You can contact Dave with your BBQ and grilling questions at www.BBQ-My-Way.com.

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