Gratinéed Scallops - Coquilles St-Jacques

Although coquilles St-Jacques simply means "scallops" in French, in the idiom of American cooks, the term is synonymous with the old French dish of scallops poached in white wine, placed atop a purée of mushrooms in a scallop shell, covered with a sauce made of the scallop poaching liquid, and gratinéed under a broiler. This rich, classic recipe was a signature dish of most of the small French restaurants in New York when I came here in the late 1950s. While working at Le Pavillon back then, I must have made it thousands of times. These days, most chefs, myself included, have moved away somewhat from that dish, favoring lighter preparations. But I'll tell you one thing: last time I made coquilles St-Jacques, it was for students at Boston University. I prepared two dishes for them: scallops cooked in a modern way, served with a green herb salad, and also the classic, gratinéed version. Now, these were not chefs-in-training; they didn't know what they were supposed to like. And there wasn't one student who didn't choose the old way over the new. It just goes to show: Truly good food never really goes out of style. —Jacques Pépin, chef, cookbook author, and PBS-TV cooking series host

Gratinéed Scallops - Coquilles St-Jacques
Gratinéed Scallops - Coquilles St-Jacques

PREP TIME

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minutes

TOTAL TIME

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minutes

SERVINGS

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servings

PREP TIME

--

minutes

TOTAL TIME

--

minutes

SERVINGS

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servings

Ingredients

  • 8

    oz. button mushrooms, minced

  • 6

    tbsp. unsalted butter

  • 3

    small shallots, minced

  • 2

    tbsp. minced parsley

  • 1

    tbsp. minced tarragon, plus 6 whole leaves, to garnish

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 3/4

    cup dry vermouth

  • 1

    bay leaf

  • 6

    large sea scallops

  • 2

    tbsp. flour

  • 1/2

    cup heavy cream

  • 2/3

    cup grated Gruyère

  • 1/2

    tsp. fresh lemon juice

Directions

SERVES 6 INGREDIENTS Heat mushrooms, 4 tbsp. butter, and ⅔ of the shallots in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat; cook until the mixture forms a loose paste, about 25 minutes. Stir parsley and minced tarragon into mushroom mixture; season with salt and pepper. Divide mixture among 6 cleaned scallop shells or shallow gratin dishes. Bring remaining shallots, vermouth, bay leaf, salt, and ¾ cup water to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add scallops; cook until barely tender, about 2 minutes. Remove scallops; place each over mushrooms in shells. Continue boiling cooking liquid until reduced to ½ cup, about 10 minutes; strain. Heat broiler to high. Heat remaining butter in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add flour; cook until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add reduced cooking liquid and cream; cook until thickened, about 8 minutes. Add cheese, juice, salt, and pepper; divide the sauce over scallops. Broil until browned on top, about 3 minutes; garnish each with a tarragon leaf.

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