Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sea scallop gratin (Coquilles St. Jacques au gratin) (p. 378)

My favorite restaurant in Des Moines is the French restaurant Django. The last time I ate there I had an amazing Scallops St. Jacques. I was excited when I noticed Sea scallop gratin (Coquilles St. Jacques au gratin) (p. 378) in TJOC, hoping that it would be similar. For some reason I thought it would be a good addition to our (rather non-traditional) Easter meal.

I sauteed shallots and garlic in butter:

I added quartered mushrooms (I like quartered mushrooms, I need to remember that) and salt:

When the mushrooms were softened, I added white wine and cooked until the wine was almost evaporated. I then added heavy cream:

I brought the concoction to a boil and cooked it until thickened:

I mixed in my scallops:

Sure, the title says "sea scallops" but sea scallops are super expensive in Colorado, so I used bay scallops.

When the scallops were no longer translucent I removed them from the heat and mixed in a little lemon juice.

In another bowl I mixed melted butter, fresh bread crumbs, Parmesan, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper:

The gratin should be served in either the individual gratin dishes, which I don't have. I could only find two of my ramekins, too, which didn't help matters. So I decided two of the dishes would be served accurately and the rest would go in to a big dish. I layered the scallop mixture first and sprinkled the gratin on top:

And popped it in the oven:

So delicious. This is one of those dishes that tastes expensive, difficult, and decadent, but was incredibly simple. It's going into the imaginary folder labeled "Impressive Dishes for Company". And, if I served it on mashed potatoes, and made it with sea scallops instead of bay scallops, I think it would be in the vicinity of the delicious gratin at Django. Believe it or not, it even heated up well the next day (although it was more like soup at that point). This is an absolutely terrific recipe and is definitely joining the ranks of my TJOC favorites.

Random facts:
  • The shell behind Venus in the famous statue "The birth of Venus" is a scallop shell (Wikipedia)
  • People who pilgrimaged to the shrine of St. John (St. Jacques) in Spain ate scallops as a penance and fastened the shells to their hats (TJOC, p. 377)
  • "Scalloped" originally meant seafood creamed, heated, and served in the shell (TJOC, p. 377) although now it refers to casseroles that don't include seafood (scalloped potatoes, for example)
  • Scallops escape predators by swimming (On Food and Cooking, p. 224). I totally did not know they could swim.

I'm going to end this post with an adorable picture of my puppy in a Iowa State Cyclones jersey:


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