Bay Scallops & Applewood Bacon with a Port Wine Reduction

Port wine reduction
2 c (500 ml) Ruby Port
½ c superfine granulated sugar (you can make your own by whizzing regular granulated sugar a few times in a food processor; just don’t substitute regular sugar)
1½ t whole black peppercorns
2 fresh mint leaves, torn into bits

Scallops
6 thin slices applewood-smoked bacon (¼ lb), cut into thirds
18 bay scallops (preferably Nantucket; ⅓ lb), tough muscle from side of each discarded if attached (if you can’t get bay scallops, you can use sea scallops cut lengthwise into thirds)
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 T unsalted butter

For Port wine reduction:
Bring Port, superfine sugar, peppercorns, and mint to a simmer in a 2-quart saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, then carefully ignite Port with a kitchen match, letting flames die down (this will take a few minutes). Simmer over moderately low heat until sauce is thickened and reduced to about ½ cup, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool to warm. (May be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Reheat before serving.)

For scallops:
Heat a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, then cook bacon until some fat has rendered and edges of bacon start to brown, about 1½ minutes per side. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.

Pat scallops as dry as possible and season with salt and pepper. When bacon is cool enough to handle, wrap a piece of bacon around each scallop and pierce scallop with a wooden pick to secure. (Scallops may be wrapped in bacon, but not sautéed, 4 hours ahead and chilled, covered. Sauté just before serving.)

Heat oil and butter in cleaned skillet over moderately high heat until quite hot but not smoking, then sauté scallops, turning over once, until bacon is browned and scallops are opaque, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to a plate and serve with Port reduction for dipping.

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