If you look at the map on the right hand side of the blog, Bretagne is the orange region that juts out of the north west coast of France. It's no surprise then that seafood is such a staple in the region's culinary identity. There are Palourdes Farcies, which are clams stuffed with garlic, herbs and shallots. I considered making these, but they seemed a little similar to the Stuffed Mussels that I made from Liguria in Italy. There are also several fish stews that the region is known for, but I was really looking for an appetizer. And of course, there is the famous Homard a l'Americaine, which is a dish of lobster cooked in a garlic tomato sauce. This sounded absolutely delicious, but all of the recipes that I found insisted that you must use raw lobster meat, and I couldn't quite stomach the idea of killing a live lobster myself with a butcher knife. I guess my chef skills aren't quite there!
Finally, I found some research on Coquilles St. Jacques, which are Breton Scallops. There were several different variations on the recipe, as there generally is with any dish. Most recipes agreed that the scallops should be topped with breadcrumbs and broiled. Some create a sauce with mushrooms to top the scallops, while other top them with Swiss cheese. This seemed to be a particularly interesting variation since often it isn't recommended to mix seafood and cheese. But, who am I to argue with the French when it comes to cooking? So, I went with a sauce of wine, shallots and garlic and also topped the scallops with some Gruyere cheese and breadcrumbs. A dab of butter went on top to guarantee a golden crust. I should note here, that if you look at my pictures (which unfortunately didn't come out so well - too bad this isn't my job, or I'd get a better camera!), you'll see that I used regular scallops. While they still tasted great, this dish would be much better with jumbo scallops, and so I adjusted the recipe to show that. Enjoy!
Coquilles St. Jacques - Breton Scallops
Adapted from French Cooking for Dummies
1 tablespoon butter
8 jumbo scallops
1 shallot, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1 teaspoon flour
3 tablespoons grated Gruyere cheese
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
- Put 1 tablespoon of butter into a pan and melt over medium heat. When hot, add the scallops. Cook for about two minutes on each side, just enough so that the scallops get a nice golden brown sear on them. Remove from the pan to a plate.
- Add the diced shallot and minced garlic to the remaining butter in the pan. Let cook about 3 minutes until soft. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes to burn off the alcohol from the wine. Lower the heat to a simmer. Add the flour and whisk to thicken the sauce.
- Put the scallops on a baking sheet (or in individual ramekins for a nice presentation). On top of each scallop put a spoonful of the sauce, followed by a pinch of the grated cheese. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top of the cheese, and finally, put a tiny dab of butter on top of the breadcrumbs.
- Broil for only a few minutes until the cheese is melted and the top is golden brown. Serve hot.
Ryan's rating of Coquilles St. Jacques - 5. France is off to a pretty good start!