I love this recipe, quite possibly more than any other recipe in my repertoire. I remember my mom making this (not often), but for special occasions or if we asked for it when she was feeling especially nice. It’s the kind of recipe that I can smell and taste and immediately be transported back to my house on Chelsea Drive.
Coquilles St. Jacques is a dish of scallops and mushrooms cooked in a creamy, cheesy wine sauce, sometimes topped with bread crumbs (although my mom’s version never had that). Here, I’ve combined what I love best about my mom’s recipe with Ina Garten’s recipe, which includes a touch of curry powder for depth and a touch of Cognac for warmth. I made Ina’s version as written for a French dinner party I had, and while it was absolutely delicious, I still missed certain flavors from my mom’s recipe. Hers has white wine and cheese in the sauce. Whatever you do, don’t skip that pinch of curry powder! It makes all the difference to elevate this recipe to the sublime.
The only time I’ve not enjoyed this recipe was when my mom had company over, including some of my friends, on the same day I had been diagnosed with pneumonia and was feeling *especially* crappy. Yes, I’m an adult who still runs to my mom’s house when I don’t feel good so she can begrudgingly take care of me.
This is definitely a company’s-coming type of recipe, because it is on the more extravagant and costly side. But it’s absolutely sure to impress! You can make it in a larger casserole dish, or to be extra fancy, serve it in individual gratin dishes so each person can have their own. The best part: you can make this ahead and it tastes even better. Just prep everything, allowing the sauce to cool to room temperature before adding the scallops (so they don’t start cooking!), cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Top with the bread crumb topping just before you’re ready to cook and you’re good to go.
Or you could make this for any ol’ night and treat yourself.
COQUILLES ST. JACQUES
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 pound cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed and sliced
2 large shallots, finely minced
1/4 cup cognac or brandy
2 pounds sea scallops, quartered or bay scallops, left whole
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dry, crisp white wine, plus a splash to finish
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup seafood stock or clam juice
2 ounces Gruyere, shredded
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon mild or sweet curry powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup panko or fresh bread crumbs
4 ounces Gruyere, shredded
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Olive oil, to moisten crumbs
Finely chopped fresh chives, for topping after baking
Preheat the oven to 400°. Use 1 tablespoon of room-temperature butter to grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish or 6 individual oven-safe gratin dishes. Set aside.
Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter; once melted, add the shallots and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened and translucent. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the mushrooms. Cook until they have the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are beginning to brown, about 9 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Off the heat, add the Cognac and cook over medium heat until the liquid has evaporated, about 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside.
To make the sauce: In another large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, add the flour and whisk to combine. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the flour-butter have become one and are a pale golden blond color. Slowly add the white wine, whisking constantly to avoid forming any lumps. Add the heavy cream and seafood stock and whisk again to make a smooth sauce. Bring the sauce just to a boil, stirring frequently, and reduce to a simmer until thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Season with curry powder, salt and pepper. Over low heat, add the 2 ounces of Gruyere, whisking to melt the cheese. Add the mushroom-shallot mixture to the pan and stir to combine. Allow to cool slightly before adding the scallops.
Rinse the scallops under cold water and dry thoroughly. Add the scallops to the sauce and stir to coat.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Gruyere aned parsley; add enough olive oil to coat the bread crumbs, about 2 to 3 tablespoons. Top the scallop mixture with the bread crumbs. At this point, you can cover the pan and refrigerate until ready to bake if you want to make ahead. Otherwise, transfer the pan to the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Switch the oven to broil and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, until the topping is golden brown. Sprinkle with chopped chives before serving.