Wicked Winona Skillet Scallops with Sage and Capers

Paula: I’m not sure what makes me crave this dish more, spying fresh, plump sea scallops in the seafood case or velvety leaves of sage in the garden. Regardless, I’ve been making this simple, satisfying recipe (adapted from The River Cafe in London) for ages. Scallops, sage, and capers might seem like unusual allies, but the flavors (sweet, herbaceous, briny) come together beautifully with a quick sizzle in a cast iron skillet and finish of freshly squeezed lemon juice and butter.

Scott: I can’t get enough of these sweet scallops. Seared crunchy on both sides, but so rich and creamy in the middle. They are like the Oreo cookies of the sea.

Paula: For years I cooked this recipe on the stove, but I’ve learned it’s even more delicious when cooked in a skillet over a charcoal fire. Because this dish comes together so quickly, it’s a tasty, time-efficient first course to serve before you fire up, say, a strip steak for dinner. 

Skillet Scallops with Sage and Wicked Winona

Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a main course

  • 12 dry-packed sea scallops
  • 1 tablespoon Wicked Winona
  • Olive oil
  • 12-15 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Crusty bread, for serving

Sprinkle the scallops with Wicked Winona, and set aside to marinate while you light the grill.

Prepare a charcoal grill for two-zone cooking and build a medium-high fire, or heat a gas grill to high. Clean and oil the grill grates. When the coals are glowing red and covered with a fine gray ash, heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over direct heat for 10 minutes.

When you’re ready to cook, drizzle the olive oil into the skillet and swirl to coat. Add the scallops in one layer and allow them to cook undisturbed (rotating skillet as needed for even cooking) until the bottoms are golden brown and crisp, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Use a slotted fish spatula to flip the scallops and scatter the sage leaves and capers over the top. Add the butter and lemon juice and cook the scallops until they’re cooked through, an additional 2-3 minutes, swirling the pan to distribute the lemon and butter sauce.

Serve the scallops immediately topped with spoonfuls of sauce and crusty bread.


Grill-side banter provided by food writer, cookbook author and grilling enthusiast, Paula Disbrowe, and infamous grill nerd and co-owner of PK Grills, Scott Moody.

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