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?
adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics
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.