Anniversary Dinner: Fish Course

A couple of years ago my parents got me a deluxe box set of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking books for Christmas.  I love it for the obvious reason that it’s like the Bible for French cuisine but also because the books and the box are cloth bound giving it an antique feel. This recipe, that I used for the fish course of our meal, comes from Volume one of these books. It’s called Coquilles St. Jacques à la Provençale which is scallops gratinéed with wine, garlic and herbs… and it happened to be my favorite course of the night (click  here to see the decor for the meal and here to see the aperitifs and hors d’oeuvres). This is a really great way to prepare scallops if you’re looking for an alternative to simply searing them. You can prepare this entire dish well ahead of time and then broil it to gratin right before serving.

Start off by melting 1 tbsp unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add in 1/3 cup minced yellow onion and cook until tender and translucent but not browned. Stir in 1 1/2 tbsp minced shallot and 1 clove minced garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Set aside. Dry 1 1/2 lbs washed scallops with a paper towel and cut into 1/4″ thick slices. Heat up 2 tbsp unsalted butter and 1 tbsp olive oil  in a high side skillet over medium high heat. Just before cooking, sprinkle the scallops with salt and pepper and roll in 1 cup sifted flour. Shake off the excess flour and add the scallops into the hot butter and oil. Sauté the scallops quickly (about 2 minutes) to brown them.

Pour in 2/3 cup dry white win and 3 tbsp water. Add 1/2 bay leafs, 1/8 tsp fresh thyme and the cooked onion mixture. Cover the skillet and simmer for 5 minutes.

Uncover and, if necessary, boil down the sauce rapidly to lightly thicken it. Correct the seasoning and discard the bay leaf. Spoon the scallops into serving sized oven-safe baking dishes. Sprinkle with grated swiss cheese and dot with unsalted butter cut into very small pieces. Just before serving, broil 3-4 minutes to heat through and brown the cheese lightly.

I served this course with a brut rosé (Jean Laurent Brut Rosé) because it’s my favorite but it would also be fantastic with a regular rosé or a dry white wine like a côtes de provence.

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