Pan-Grilled Scallops with Bay Leaves

SERVES 4

In the Arpege kitchen, chefs ''grill'' in salamanders, broilers set above the stove at eye level, where their powerful, even heat is easier to control. At home, searing in a pan on top of the stove works best.

**16 fresh bay leaves, halved lengthwise,
center veins removed
16 medium sea scallops, muscles removed
10 tbsp. butter
2 small leeks, trimmed, halved lengthwise,
and sliced crosswise into 1/2'' pieces
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced into 2'' strips
1/3 cup chicken stock
Salt
Freshly grated nutmeg
**
1. Cut small notches about 1/2'' in from the ends of each bay leaf strip with a sharp knife. Wrap 2 bay leaf strips around each scallop, then secure in place by sliding ends together at notches. (See It's a Wrap for a tip on the technique.) Cover scallops with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Melt 3 tbsp. of the butter in a medium skillet over low heat, add leeks, and mix well. Place a round of parchment paper on top of leeks and allow to sweat but not brown, until very soft, about 45 minutes.

3. Melt 5 tbsp. of the butter in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add stock and slowly simmer, stirring often, until thick and creamy, about 10 minutes. (Don't overcook the sauce. It will separate if reduced too much.)

4. Season both sides of scallops with salt to taste. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add remaining 2 tbsp. butter. When butter begins to brown, add scallops and sear until just golden, about 2 minutes. Turn scallops and cook until just opaque, about 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.

5. To serve, spoon one-quarter of the onions into a little pile on a plate, then spoon one-quarter of the leeks on top of onions. Sprinkle a little nutmeg over leeks, then arrange 4 scallops with their bay leaves around leeks and onions. Repeat with remaining ingredients on three more plates. Remove bay leaves before eating.