In honor of Julia Child’s birthday (Aug. 15, 1912 – Aug. 13, 2004), here is a recipe from her classic cookbook. It also happens to be the second course for Jade and Uyen’s birthday dinner. (Yes, it’s another French dish.) I served it with a mushroom risotto on the side. Ever since our honeymoon, we have been obsessed with food, and especially French foods. This is why it’s no surprise that I have downloaded both volumes of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking from RFB&D and lie in bed at night listening to recipe after recipe until I fall asleep. Nuts? Just a little bit.
To gratinee something or cook it au gratin means to add a layer of an ingredient(s) (e.g. bread crumbs, cheese, eggs, butter) over the top and brown it lightly in a moderately heated broiler prior to serving. This is a common technique from the French and adds flavor and texture to the dish. When I was in Paris 9 years ago, my great aunt made numerous au gratin dishes, mostly in the form of some sort of vegetable in a casserole dish with tons of butter, cheese, and eggs–those French sure know how to eat.
I find that Costco usually has the tastiest looking scallops for a reasonable price–I think I got them for $9.99/lb. Costco has fresh seafood all around, so check out their kiosk next time you’re there on a weekend. They usually have everything from lobster to king crab.
As noted in the recipe below, I have this terrible habit of overcrowding my cookware. I always try to jam things into a small mixing bowl or crowd food into a pan. It comes from my laziness–I’m trying to minimize the time and effort needed for later dishwashing. This is why my food sometimes comes out half overcooked and the other half raw. I really need to break this cycle. Spacious cooking, here I come.
Summary: Coquilles St. Jacques à la Provençale–original recipe from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking (vol. 1)
1/3 c. yellow onion, minced
- 5 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1.5 tbsp. shallots or green onion, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1.5 lbs. washed scallops
- salt & pepper
- 1 cup sifted flour
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 2/3 c. dry white wine
- 1/2 bay leaf
- 1/8 tsp. thyme
- 1/4 c. Swiss cheese, grated
- Cook onions slowly with 1 tbsp. butter in small saucepan for 5 minutes or until tender and translucent but not brown. Stir in shallots or green onion and garlic, and cook slowly for 1 minute more. Set aside.
- Dry the scallops and cut into 1/4 inch thick. Just before cooking, sprinkle with salt and pepper, roll in flour, and shake off excess flour.
- In a large skillet, saute the scallops quickly in 2 tbsp. very hot butter and olive oil for 2 minutes to brown them lightly.
- Pour the wine into skillet with scallops. Add herbs and cooked onion mixture. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Then uncover and, if necessary, rapidly boil down the sauce for a minute until it is lightly thickened. Correct seasoning and discard bay leaf.
- Cut 2 tbsp. butter into 6 pieces. Spoon scallops into a baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese and dot with butter. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to gratinee.
- Just before serving, run under moderately hot broiler for 3 to 4 minutes to heat through and brown the cheese lightly.
Since this recipe is a first course for 6, I doubled the recipe in order to serve it as the main course. I also have this bad habit of overcrowding food into cookware so some of the scallops soaked up all the sauce while others were undercooked. Don’t fall into my bad habits! Cook in batches or using more pots and pans if you have to. (I know it’s hard for us lazy folk.) After gratineeing the scallops, they turned out slightly overdone. Flavor was still great though. Serve with a chilled rose or dry white wine.
Cooking time (duration): 30
Diet type: Pescatarian
Meal type: supper
Culinary tradition: French
Microformatting by hRecipe.
And remember, if the Blind can Cook, then so can you.