April 30, 2010

French Friday: Scallop Gratin


Oh yo, oh yo, catch this:1 This is, without a doubt, one of my very favorite things that has ever come out of my own kitchen. It is also very, very possible that is one of my favorite things that I have ever eaten, ever, from my humble hands or the hands of far more talented cooks on this or other continents. Did I mention, ever?

To be honest, I didn’t think it would turn out this way. I sort of skimmed the recipe and thought, “Oh, scallops are on sale this week. What a quick, elegant way to use them. How easy is that?” I like to talk to myself like the Barefoot Contessa when I’m looking at her recipes. It passes the time.

Thing is, when it comes to Food Network personalities, Paula Deen gets all the credit as the butter-lover. But Ina — however more discretely she is at work — deserves to share that crown. While Paula gets her rocks off calling attention to the butter, y’all, Ina rarely acknowledges what she’s plopping into a mixing bowl. So, unless you’ve got a hawk eye for such things or high cholesterol, you might not even notice the many, many tablespoons of butter she puts in everything. And what of it, really? Butter is delicious; fat tastes good. Would Julia bat an eye? I think not.

Even so, I fell prey to Ina’s slight of hand. Because when I was still under the delusion that this might be a moderately healthy dinner, I was measuring out the butter and then adding olive oil and — I’d been had!

So I made a rich, unhealthy, succulently luscious dinner by accident on a random weeknight. And you know what? It was one of the crowing glories of my culinary life. This is what I want to eat on my deathbed, or when someone is trying to seduce me, or when a heartbroken friend comes over for dinner. This is the food that reaffirms your faith in the act and effort of living.

The freshest seafood can taste of life and the sea itself. This dish combines the best of the watery depths with butter, olive oil, and white wine. Together, these four culminate in some sort of new and profound creation of deliciousness. I hardly understand it myself. But add a fleck of parsley, salty prosciutto, bright lemon juice, and the toasted crunch of panko, and you are looking at a dinner of such deep and abiding pleasures, I myself am beginning to blush.

Is there anything more to say than: make this?

Scallop Gratin
adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics
Serves 2

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 small shallot minced
1/2 ounce thinly sliced prosciutto, minced (I sheepishly asked the woman at the deli counter for one slender slice)
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons panko
2 tablespoon dry white wine
1/2 pound fresh scallops

Preheat oven to 425. Place gratin dish on a sheet pan.

To make topping, mix together butter, garlic, shallot, prosciutto, parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper and mix until combined. Stir in olive oil until combined (Ina says to use a stand mixer, but with quantities this small, I did this by hand). Fold in the panko and set aside.

Pour wine into the bottom of the gratin dish. With a small sharp knife, remove the white muscle and membrane from the side of each scallop and discard. Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel and arrange them in the gratin dish. Spoon the garlic butter evenly over the top of the scallops. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the top is golden and sizzling and the scallops are barely done.

If you want the top crustier, run under the broiler until browned. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice, a sprinkling of parsley, and serve right away with lots of French bread. Die happy.

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  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday: I love scallops and anything gratin and and butter and Ina Garten.

    Yeah, I pretty much have to make this5 years ago

  • Alex: Lolz @ “How easy is that?” comment. I can hear Ina in my head saying that to the camera right now . . . this looks really good.5 years ago

  • Karen: This dish looks like perfection — I’ve never made something from Ina that wasn’t amazing!5 years ago

  • punkrawkknitter: How well do you think this would be with frozen scallops? Living in a prarie province, I don’t trust the fresh scallops at the grocery store.5 years ago

  • Kristina: My favorite part is the very last line. That looks amazing! I usually don’t mind cooking vegetarian (for my husband), but at times like these… ooo… well, maybe I’ll have to resort to seduction myself. :)5 years ago

  • Anna: I haven’t even finished reading the post, but I think your first few sentences are enough to persuade me that this is something I have to try right away! Love your French Friday posts.5 years ago

  • Cadi: This sounds positively sinfully luscious! Saturday’s dinner is all but made. Thanks Sarah!5 years ago

  • WannaBePinkTeri: Looks like I know what the hubs and I are having for dinner tomorrow night! YUM…5 years ago

  • punkrawkknitter, i say go for it with the frozen scallops! it might not approach the same levels of transcendence, but i’m sure all the butter and wine will more than make up for it!5 years ago

  • KBG in DC: Good lord, with a recommendation like that how could I NOT make this? There’s going to be a run on scallops at the grocery store this weekend!5 years ago

  • Laura: Wow! What a description!
    I have never in my life cooked scallops… They aren’t really standard fare in land-locked Switzerland.
    But this post makes me absolutely yearn to…5 years ago

  • BethP: I was tricked by Ina Garten too recently, and that same cookbook, on her sole meuniere recipe. I sort of thought I was making a healthy fish dinner but there was SO MUCH BUTTER! But it was mostly my fault for not really knowing what meuniere was…

    It was delicious anyway.5 years ago

  • Julia: I love Ina! I like it when she’s putting good stuff like sugar, butter, chocolate etc. into a mixing bowl then says ‘how bad can that be?’… but Paula Deen is yet to cross the Atlantic to our airwaves5 years ago

  • heather: i LOVE LOVE LOVE scallops…the mister, however, does not. BUT! on thursday, i’d gone to our butcher/fish shop to get two pounds of mussels…and they only had about 1/3 of a pound of mussels on hand. so i took those, sure, and grabbed a FEW scallops, plus a halibut fillet, which i sliced into three planks and easy-peasy breaded with panko and fried up real quick. the halibut was THE MOST DELICIOUS THING i’d put in my mouth. on thursday, anyway.

    then i read THIS post, and NOW i can’t quit fantasizing about making THIS recipe…only with THAT halibut. oh, yes…it will be mine! :)5 years ago

  • Ruth@GraceLaced: Way to singlehandedly distract my train of thought, and permanently disable my palatal concentration until I can get my hands on some scallops! Between the mussels you posted bout the other day, and now this…I must allow for a little more luxury in my cuisine.5 years ago

  • Margarita: Oh my that looks so so so delicious, and this is coming from someone who thinks scallops usually look bland and boring. Mmmm, this is definitely an UNdiet recipe!5 years ago

  • beth: I’ve been reading POP long enough to know you’re not one for unnecessary exaggeration, so I’m taking this post very seriously. Yours is a trusted voice, my friend. Which means scallops for me!5 years ago

  • I’m glad you feel like you can take my word for it. I really don’t rave all that much but this was, like, whoa delicious.5 years ago

  • geek+nerd: Well then! That good, huh? I will have to bookmark this then! (P.S. I looooooooovvvvvve Ina. She is totally my favorite tv foodie. Paula is a close second).5 years ago

  • ruya tabirleri: Yeah, I pretty much have to make this thanks5 years ago

  • Jacquelyn: This dish is great for 2 or 20 and you can still serve when out of season due to good frozen scallops. Ina’s recipes are practical while still elegant. I’ll only use butter, olive oil or canola oil (for the rare fry dish.) P. Dean is a good cook but I grew up cooking her “recipes.”5 years ago

  • Ines: Sounds yummy!5 years ago

  • Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen: Every time we watch the Barefoot Contessa, my husband always comments, “did you see how much butter she used?” I haven’t made this dish yet, but I sure have dreamed of it. Guess it will soon be on our menu, butter and all. Sigh.
    Sam4 years ago

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- Khalil Gibran