It’s a bit tricky to describe how incredibly rich and utterly amazing this dish is. But I must try. It’s an absolute favorite of ours, reserved for very special occasions. Or when we think we deserve it :)
To begin, chopped fresh mushrooms are sautéed in butter with shallot and fresh parsley until the mushrooms have darkened and are soft. Then beautiful sea scallops are added along with dry white wine, a pinch of cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes. The scallops are gently simmered for just a few minutes. The wonderful liquid that forms is drained and reserved to be added back into the final sauce.
Ahhh the sauce. Not for the faint of heart. Did I mention how rich this dish is?
The mushrooms and scallops are removed from the pan and plated on buttered scallop shells. “Coquille” after all is the French word for shell. I happen to own scallop shells thanks to my Mom, the gadget guru, who knew I should have them for just such a dish (I also have Escargot shells, pans, and tongs….we’ll save them for another thyme).
More butter is added to the sauté pan with flour to make a roux. The reserved liquid is whisked in along with cream, then the sauce is cooked gently until it thickens. Two egg yolks are then tempered with a bit of sauce before being added back into the saucepan. In just minutes you have the most glorious sauce, ready to top the layered mushrooms and scallops.
Sauce is spooned over each scallop, then sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan cheese before going under the broiler. At this point in the process I’m so giddy about what’s coming my way I can barely stand it.
I should mention that this is the first ‘gourmet’ recipe I ever made. One day, way back when, I turned to my beloved Fanny Farmer paperback cookbook and stumbled upon Coquilles Saint-Jacques. It sounded suitably decadent without being overly complicated. Perfect.
Not only did I live in an apartment with a pint sized kitchen, the only scallops I knew and probably could afford were bay scallops. Much smaller in size but quite delicious. I’ve since moved into a bigger house, with a larger kitchen, and have upgraded my scallops to these gorgeous Sea Scallops. No matter where you are in your culinary life, Coquilles Saint-Jacques is a wonderful dish to add to your repertoire.
- 4 large sea scallops or 1 lb. bay scallops
- 4 Tbl. butter, divided
- 1 shallot, fine diced
- 2 Tbl. minced parsley
- ¼ lb. mushrooms, chopped
- ½ cup dry white wine
- pinch cayenne pepper
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 2 Tbl. flour
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 egg yolks, beaten
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- sea salt & freshly cracked pepper
- Melt 2 Tbl. butter in sauté pan over medium-low, add mushrooms, shallot, and fresh parsley and sauté until the mushrooms have darkened and are soft. Add sea scallops, dry white wine, a pinch of cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook for 2 minutes, turn over scallops and cook an additional minute. Drain mushrooms and scallops, reserving cooking liquid.
- Layer mushrooms then scallops on buttered scallop shells. Place on baking sheet.
- Melt 2 Tbl. butter in the sauté pan over medium heat; add flour and whisk for 2 minutes. Whisk in the reserved cooking liquid and cream, then cook gently until sauce thickens.
- Add 2 Tbl. sauce to beaten egg yolks, then add back into saucepan. Whisk for 2-3 minutes until sauce is smooth and thick. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of sauce over each scallop, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
- Put under the broiler just long enough to brown the cheese.
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