Sunday, 15 December 2013

Coquilles St Jacques

Are you ready for another one of my retro, oldie but goodie recipes? This is another one where there are dozens of variations, so experiment around with it until it's to your own liking, and then you'll have a treasured family recipe of your own! And because it's French, there seems to be a rivalry as to whether the a la Parisienne or the Provencal recipe is superior. I'm not sure which this one leans to, and I try to stay neutral in their culinary squabbles! And further to that, they would be appalled to know that I often serve this as a main with a rice pilaf and asparagus! But in fact, to stay true to the recipe, you would serve it as an appetizer, and in a shell shaped ovenproof dish. Since I've been breaking all the rules my whole life, I'll blaze my own trail here too and serve it as a main. Especially since I can't find my shell shaped dishes.

And this is another one of my recipes where we go in stages. First we are going to poach our scallops in a wine based bouillon. Then sauté our mushrooms and shallot. And then on to the sauce. At that point you would assemble in your shell shaped dishes and broil them for a minute or two just to brown the tops. So it's easy and fast and makes for a wonderful hot appetizer for special dinner parties.

For the bouillon you'll need:
half an onion sliced
1 stalk of sliced celery
1 bay leaf
1/2 a lemon sliced
1 cup of white wine
about 10 or 12 peppercorns
1 pound of scallops, washed and dried, and remove that little muscle on the side of them. Cut them into bite size pieces if you get the jumbo size.

For the rest you'll need:
1/2 cup of butter
1 finely diced shallot
1 pound of sliced mushrooms
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 small sprig of fresh thyme, leaves removed
1/4 cup of flour
a pinch of salt
freshly ground pepper
1 cup of half and half cream
1 cup of grated gruyere cheese
a little splash more of white wine
chopped parsley (which you won't see in this photo since I forgot to get some)
1/2 cup of bread crumbs

Prepare your bouillon and let it come up to the simmer for a few minutes. Add your scallops. If you don't have enough liquid to cover the scallops, add a bit of water to cover. Let them simmer for 10 or 12 minutes until they are white. Remove the scallops and set aside. Strain the liquid through a sieve and reserve. You need 1/2 a cup of it.

Melt all but 2 tablespoons of your butter and add the shallot and let it soften. Add your garlic and let it sauté just for a minute or two and add your mushrooms and thyme. Saute until your mushrooms are golden brown. Take it off the heat and add the flour and stir it around for a minute and add that little splash of wine to deglaze your pan, scraping up all the bits on the pan. Put it back on the heat and whisk in the cream and let it thicken. Whisk in your reserved bouillon (1/2 a cup) and let it come up to the simmer. Remove from the heat and add half of your grated cheese. When it melts, gently fold your scallops in. Season with salt and pepper. Now here is where you would divide the mixture into your shell dishes set out on a cookie sheet. Melt your 2 tablespoons of butter and stir into your breadcrumbs. Sprinkle some of the breadcrumbs onto the top of each dish and then the remainder of your cheese. Put them under the broiler just for a few minutes (watch it like a hawk here!) until the cheese is melted and golden brown. Et Voila! Serve it up and enjoy my friends! This recipe is a dinosaur, just like me, but oh so delicious!

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