Scallops are well-loved around the world, particularly in Brittany on France's beautiful Western coast.
They thrive in the col waters of the bay of Saint-Brieuc. They are sold at fishmongers’ stalls for a limited time only each year, usually spanning mid-autumn to spring, to give the scallops time and safety to reproduce.
During scallop season, Normans and Breton’s fishermen are subject to strict regulations, from the number and size of boats, types of fishing gear, and specific fishing days, times and quotas.
All this is done to preserve the precious shellfish, a symbol of St. James as well as a treasured delicacy.
As Chef Antoine Lours’ grandmother hails from Brittany, her recipes have greatly influenced his own. His recipe for coquille St. Jacques, scallops cooked in wine and cream sauce, is rich enough to delight fussy palates, yet light enough to leave you wanting more. Chef Antoine recommends pairing it with a dry white wine, such as a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 pinch paprika
- 1 pound sea scallops
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ cup diced shallots
- ½ pound white button
- mushrooms, sliced
- 8 fresh tarragon leaves
- salt and freshly ground
- black pepper to taste
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon
- 4 large oven-safe scallop shells
- ¼ cup shredded Gruyere cheese
Turn on medium heat and melt butter in a large skillet. Saute your shallots in the hot butter for 5-8 minutes, until translucent.
Add the mushrooms, salt, and black pepper. Cook further on medium-high heat, stirring often, until mushrooms are golden brown (about 10 minutes)
Pour white wine over your mushroom mixture, dissolving any browned bits at the bottom of your skillet. Bring to a simmer. Gently add scallops into the mixture and poach until barely firm, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer scallops to a bowl.
Strain the mushroom mixture into another bowl, reserving the cooking liquid. Return the strained liquid to your skillet, together with any accumulated juices from the scallops. Stir in cream.
Bring to a boil and cook while stirring often until sauce is reduced by about half. This should take about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the sauce rest for 1 minute.
Quickly whisk egg yolk into cream sauce until combined. Transfer your skillet to a work surface (such as a heat-proof countertop or cutting board) and add the cayenne pepper, minced tarragon, and lemon zest.
Divide the mushroom mixture between your scallop shells, spreading it over the bottom of each shell. Place about 3 scallops in each, then top the whole with cream sauce before sprinkling lightly with Gruyere cheese, paprika and cayenne.
Turn your oven’s broiler to high. Place a large, lightly crinkled sheet of aluminum foil on a baking sheet. Place the filled shells on foil and press lightly to help them stay level.
Broil about 10 inches from the heat source for 5 – 6 minutes, until sauce is bubbling and cheese is lightly browned. Transfer to serving plates lined with napkins to prevent shells from tipping. Garnish each portion with 2 crossed tarragon leaves. Serve.