An elegant starter that gets a beautiful balance from the meatiness of the black pudding, the sweetness of the scallops and butternut, and the crispy, salty texture of the Parma ham.
1 small butternut squash, peeled
200ml white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon caster sugar
½ teaspoon mixed peppercorns
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon butter
100ml chicken stock or water
2 slices of Parma ham
6 large scallops, trimmed and row removed
Sea salt to season
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 thin slices of black pudding
Butternut squash purée
A handful of micro coriander
First, prepare the squash. With a mandoline, slice the top half of the squash as thin as you can for the pickle. You will really only need five to six nice round slices. Place the slices in a jar or container.
Place the white wine vinegar, sugar, peppercorns and fennel seeds in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to the boil. Then pour this mixture over the squash slices, completely covering them. Allow to cool, then refrigerate.
With an extra-small melon baller, cut out ten little balls of butternut squash. Keep the rest of the squash for soups or even purée for this dish.
Place the butternut squash balls in a saucepan with the butter and stock, and cook on a really low heat for 3–4 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.
Place the Parma ham between two sheets of parchment paper and sandwich it between two trays. Place into a preheated oven at 190ºC/410ºF/gas mark 6 for 12–14 minutes until crisp. You can do this the day before.
Now you are ready for the scallops. Be prepared with a smoking-hot pan and have a tray lined with kitchen paper. You will need to work quickly with these. Once you have them cooked you will need to serve them right away, otherwise they will overcook and turn out like rubber.
Season the scallops with sea salt on both sides. Add the olive oil to the pan and, starting at the top of the pan, work your way around it, placing the side of the scallops you are going to present down on the pan, making sure the pan is absolutely smoking hot. Add in the black pudding. Each batch of scallops will be different sizes so there is no set time for cooking these.
You will have to use your instincts. Check the first scallop you have placed to see if it is golden. If you are happy with the colour, quickly turn it. Repeat with the other scallops. Then turn the black pudding also, as it can cook very quickly.
Once you’ve turned the scallops and black pudding, be ready to remove them from the pan, normally after 30 seconds to 1 minute. Set on kitchen paper to drain and then serve immediately.
To plate, squeeze some butternut squash purée onto the plate, then add some slices of the pickle and finally the squash balls in a decorative way to the plate and garnish with the micro coriander. Place a scallop on the plate, then a piece of black pudding and repeat twice, arranging them in a line. Top with the crispy Parma ham.