Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Scallops Gratin, Ina Garten Style

A couple of weeks ago, I tweeted that I was having the ho-hums in the kitchen.  I just couldn't muster up any kind of enthusiasm with cooking.  That happens to me, every so often.  I'm sure I'm not the only one.  Last weekend, I sat outside to enjoy a sunny afternoon in our backyard.  I dug out a few of my Tyler Florence and Ina Garten cookbooks and began to revisit them.  The dry spell of cooking inspiration was broken!

I had invited my husband for dinner at Chez Debby's, that Saturday night.  (This is my way of saying I would be cooking at home, for Date Night, and he'd be doing all of the cleanup). Truthfully, I am very lucky that my husband does most of the kitchen cleanup on a regular basis.  Chez Debby's is affordable cooking, but I try to kick things up a few notches so that it looks like restaurant quality.  Ina Garten to the rescue:

Whenever Whole Foods has their special sales, I stock up-- especially when it's Sea Scallops on sale for half price!  My favorite way to prepare scallops has been to quickly sear them.  This time, I wanted to try something different and Ina's Scallops Gratin sounded perfect.

I had frozen the scallops.  My "quick thaw" method never involves the microwave. Instead, I rinse them with warm water to separate them, and then soak them. In about 15 minutes, or longer, they are good to go.

 Pat them very dry, and remove the muscle (the "feet") that it sometimes hanging on to the side.

 These are a decent size, and the price was just right.

I made a couple of tweaks to Ina's recipe.  I chose not to use Prosciutto di Parma because I didn't have any.  I also decided to add fresh tarragon (which is growing out of control in our garden).  I love tarragon.  Ina also lists Pernod, but I don't have that on hand.  I wasn't going to invest in a bottle, just for this recipe.

Tarragon and seafood are meant for one another. I love the really mild notes of licorice.

This is a very easy recipe to make, actually.   I'm going to make delicious garlic-butter topping, and then I'm going to fold in Panko crumbs.  Here's how:

To make the topping, place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you can also use a hand mixer).With the mixer on low speed, add the garlic, shallot, tarragon, prosciutto*,

...parsley*, lemon juice, Pernod*, salt, and pepper and mix until combined. With the mixer still on low, add the olive oil slowly as though making mayonnaise, until combined.
*I didn't use these ingredients.
Fold the panko in with a rubber spatula and set aside.
NOTE: Don't use bread crumbs! Panko crumbs are much easier to find, nowadays. Check the international aisle of your supermarket.  Panko gives a beautiful crunch to this recipe, and the crumbs would become soggy.

Preheat the broiler, if it’s separate from your oven. Place 1 tablespoon of the wine in the bottom of each gratin dish.

 Distribute the scallops among the 3* dishes.(NOTE: I scaled this recipe for two.)

Spoon the garlic butter evenly over the top of the scallops.

Since the oven was already preheated, I decided to roast fresh asparagus with salt, pepper and a little olive oil. I like to use my cast-iron skillet for ease.  

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the topping is golden and sizzling and the scallops are barely done. If you want the top crustier, place the dishes under the broiler (which I did) for 2 minutes, until browned.

Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkling of chopped parsley and serve immediately with crusty French bread (which I didn't have, but I wish I had...the sauce is amazing!)

For those of you who watch "The Barefoot Contessa", you've seen many episodes where Jeffrey walks into the kitchen to see what's cooking.  Craig is my Jeffrey, and this meal was prepared with a lot of love. The table was set, soft music going and just the two of us, and two glasses of chilled white wine. Best of all, this really came together in about 45 minutes.

VERDICT:   I loved this dish.  The scallops were tender, and not overcooked.  How can you go wrong with wine, butter and garlic?  I'm glad that I added tarragon, because it's one of my favorite herbs.  I didn't miss adding the Prosciutto at all.  As for my Jeffrey Craig, he really loved this dish.  He said it looked and tasted just like a fancy restaurant. For me, that's an ultimate compliment.  This recipe, in fact, reminds me a lot of Ina's Baked Shrimp Scampi that I made quite a while ago.  The panko topping is really good, and I would make this for shrimp or any kind of baked fish. It's one of my favorite recipes I've made in quite a while.

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Becki's Whole Life said...

This looks delicious - love Ina for a great date night recipe. I bet it's great without the prosciutto because there is so much flavor in the butter garlic sauce already.

bellini said...

THis is a very special dish for a date with your husband Debby! What better way to express your love:D

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

It's been so long since I made scallops at home, and they used to be something I'd make as a real treat. The crispy gratin topping looks delicious. You've inspired me to rekindle my love of scallops!

Please Do Not Feed The Animals. said...

Mmmmm that looks an absolutely beautiful dish. Perfect date night dish and one I think I will copy. Now, I just need someone to babysit the kids for a night.

TKW said...

I've been dying to try this! You've just convinced me!

Valerie said...

What a romantic, delicious-looking dish! That crisp topping is gorgeous.

Aarthi said...

i love this...I love the topping..This looks perfect...Thanks for the recipe dear.....

Joanne said...

My future husband had BETTER take care of the kitchen clean-up! scallops for him!

ARLENE said...

I've made this dish and can attest to how wonderful it is. Your photos are much better than mine!

Cathy at Wives with Knives said...

Oh my, I agree with Craig. Your scallops look like they were prepared in a very fancy restaurant. Ina's recipes are always wonderful. I just bought another one of her cookbooks yesterday. Couldn't resist it. Beautiful meal, Debby.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I like your version better than Ina's. I'm not crazy about mixing meats with seafood, so I'd have left out the prosciutto too. I'll have to keep my eyes open for sales like those at Whole Foods. How wonderful that you and your hubs had a special evening together. Eat your heart out Jeffrey.

Cathy Pieroz said...

This looks delicious and I can't wait to give it a try at my next dinner party in place of the usual coquilles st jacques. Thank you :) - Cathy Pieroz at Ray White Alexandra Hills