Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bay Scallop Gratins

For this dish, I got to visit two of my favorite stores: Whole Foods and Williams Sonoma. My first trip was to Williams Sonoma to buy the gratin dishes required for the recipe. I actually hesitated before entering since it's much too tempting to venture into this store when I know my budget doesn't allow me to buy every single thing I see. But I took a chance and went in to at least check if they had the right dishes. Of course, Williams Sonoma carried the exact same kind Ina uses (finally, cookware I could find!), AND they were on sale! Well, it was obviously meant to be. So, I bought 4.

My next stop was Whole Foods for bay scallops, which I saw there during my first visit. Bay scallops are smaller, sweeter, and more tender than sea scallops and are generally only available on the East Coast in the Fall. With that description, I thought I might have to look in a specialty seafood store to find them, but lo and behold, Whole Foods delivered once again.

Once I was all equipped to cook I assembled my ingredients:

room temperature butter, garlic, shallot, prosciutto, parsley, lemon, ouzo, salt, pepper, olive oil, panko bread crumbs, dry white wine, and the "newspaper"- wrapped scallops 

I preheated the oven to 425 and got to chopping. I minced the garlic, shallot, prosciutto, and parsley. Like Ina's extreme distaste for cilantro (which I share) I feel similarly about parsley. Most people think this is sort of odd since parsley is a somewhat mild herb and is used most often as a garnish. But I find it so offensive that like Carrie Bradshaw, I don't even want a sprinkling of it on my plate. Needless to say, I was not thrilled to see it was an ingredient in this dish. But I digress...

I put the butter in a large bowl and added the garlic, shallot, prosciutto, parsley, lemon juice, ouzo, salt, and pepper. (The original recipe actually calls for Pernod which is a french anise-flavored liquor. I did find this at the liquor store, but chose to use ouzo instead since you (read: Dan) can actually drink it, and Pernod isn't as pleasant to drink on its own.) With an electric mixer on low, I mixed all of these ingredients together, which only took a few moments. 

With the mixer still on low, I added the olive oil slowly, as if making mayonnaise or salad dressing. I would have liked to take a picture of this step in progress, but that would have required a third arm, which I've yet to grow. But here is how the mixture looked after this step:

I was concerned this wouldn't emulsify completely because I thought the butter was a little too soft when I started, but it actually worked exactly as it was supposed to. Wooo! I then folded in the panko bread crumbs using a rubber spatula:

I know, this picture's not the best, but don't worry, 
you're not really missing anything 

I placed the gratin dishes on a sheet pan and added a tablespoon of white wine to the bottom of each one:

The dark pieces in the middle dish are just parsley left over 
from the tablespoon I was re-using 

The next step in the recipe was to remove the small muscle that is sometimes attached to scallops. So I put the scallops in a strainer:

and rinsed them. I inspected each to try to find the small muscle, but found very few, and was starting to just pull them apart accidentally since they are so small and tender. I'm not sure if this instruction in the recipe is just if using regular sea scallops cut in quarters, which Ina says can be substituted in place of the bay scallops, but even if I just missed the muscles, it didn't seem to make much of a difference in the end result. I patted the scallops dry and distributed them among the gratin dishes: 

I then spooned the garlic butter mixture evenly over all of the scallops:

I put these in the oven to bake and prepped the garnish. I had reserved a lemon half for the juice, chopped a little more parsley and sliced some French bread to use to soak up all the yummy butter:

Once the scallops had baked for about 12 minutes, the maximum cook time, I put them under the broiler so the top could get brown and crusty. The broiler on our gas stove is under the oven, so that the flame that heats the oven is what toasts in the broiler. Because of this, I was nervous the tops of the scallops would brown too quickly or burn. Hence, I assumed a steady watch for the duration of the broiling time:

Remember, the broiler is under the oven. 
Not exactly easily observable. 

I finished each dish with the chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice, and here's the final plating:


Now let me preface my review by reminding you all that I don't particularly like seafood, and I've never actually eaten scallops, so I was definitely hesitant to try this. But, I considered with the amount of butter and garlic I used, there might be enough flavor to cancel out any fishiness. It was a bit salty, probably because of the prosciutto, and the anise flavor from the ouzo was pretty strong, but not unpleasant. I actually managed to eat about half of my scallops, and then continued to eat French bread to soak up all the excess butter. Scallops are a shellfish, which are notoriously fishy, but these actually weren't too bad. The other flavors were strong and balanced well together. Since I've never eaten sea scallops, I can't really comment on if the bay scallops were more tender or sweeter, but Dan (who cleaned his plate, as per usual) didn't seem to think there was much of a difference. 

Make this when: hosting a medium-sized dinner party with friends. The recipe is easily doubled, the prep work isn't too labor intensive, and all of the portions cook simultaneously. There is no additional plating since the dish cooks in its own plate and the presentation is quite impressive. Granted, there is a fair amount of garlic in this dish, so eat it with people you like. 

Next Course: Baked Potatoes with Yogurt & Sour Cream


  1. Awww such a cute post! I like the Carrie Bradshaw reference and the "lots of garlic so eat it with people you like" comment. I have never had scallops but I do like most seafood. I think with all the garlic and butter I might def try this. Especially if I can convince a certain sister to make it for me (read: You). xox

  2. I love scallops and this looks like it was a great recipe. I'll take Dan's review as accurate "he cleaned his plate". Hmm I need to start thinking about trying some of these recipes on Paradox..

  3. Glad that you doing that which I could not actually get you to do when you were younger and this is try new scallops. I am sooo impressed. Kudos to you and Ina and of course me your MOM.

  4. This is the cutest blog ever! I love reading it. I have been keeping up with it since you started. I can't wait for the next entry!


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