11-10: French Scallops

Happy New Year, and welcome to 2022! I’m going to start this year off with a redo–although you didn’t know that it was such. I cooked 11-10: French Scallops early last year (2021), but did such a terrible job of it that I didn’t even want to share the pictures of it with you. I’ve had it hanging out in my queue for almost a year, and it’s time to fix that–when you know better, you should do better.

I took far too many liberties with my first attempt, not realizing that this dish was somewhat specific in its design and not just “up for interpretation”. Coquilles St. Jacques (note Simply Delicious misspelled it) is a French preparation of scallops, hence their abridged title of “French Scallops”. There’s lots of versions of it out there, most somewhat similar to this one.

Again, they spell “baguette” with a q, which has happened before in this book. Also, they don’t mention cheese in the list of ingredients, but they do mention using it in the TIPS. Most of the recipes I found for this dish also use cheese (and sometimes also breadcrumbs), so if you want to add cheese and/or breadcrumbs to yours, you can–I suggest using Parmesan.

Ingredients. One of the main things I was missing the first time around was the shells–I didn’t have shells to serve the dish in and didn’t care much about it the first time around. After doing a bit of research about it, I realized that the shells WERE a big part of it and by skipping them I had fundamentally changed the dish, and not for the better.

During the course of the year, I happened to go on a (socially-distanced/masked) shopping trip with a friend and found the shells I needed at Sur La Table–they were even on sale! Once I found them, I knew that I needed to give it another go. I even got to use the shells again for another upcoming dish, 1-12: Mixed Seafood Au Gratin.

As for the other ingredients: the container of fish broth is left over from the aforementioned 1-12: Mixed Seafood Au Gratin (I made them pretty close to each other since the ingredients overlap pretty significantly) and I have some non-dairy whipping cream that I plan to “thicken” with some real-dairy (but lactose free) sour cream to mimic “crème fraîche“. Again, no cheese since they didn’t list it specifically, but if you want to use some, I suggest Parmesan.

I had used fresh scallops the first time around, but since food is SIGNIFICANTLY more expensive than a year ago when I made this the first time, I went with frozen this time.

Since my scallops this time were frozen (I used fresh the first time), I borrowed a trick from my restaurant days to get them ready. We offered shrimp as an add-on to a few dishes (pasta, salad, etc.), but we didn’t serve it enough to keep fresh shrimp on hand–it would go bad before we could use it all, and food cost is everything in a restaurant.

So, what we would do is keep a bag of frozen shrimp on hand and then bring a few of them down quickly in a small sauté pan on the stove with a bit of water whenever an order came in. Then, we’d give it a quick sear/cook with some lemon juice, salt, & pepper and then toss it right on your pasta or salad (and charge you an extra $5 for it). I guarantee you’ve eaten seafood prepared this way from a restaurant, and might not have even known it. But there’s a trick you can keep in your back pocket in case you want to grab yourself a big bag of frozen shrimp from Costco and work through it a few at a time.

For these scallops, I didn’t take them ALL the way to fully cooked, but just enough to be thawed and “ready for use”.

Back to the regularly scheduled program–here’s the mushrooms being sautéed in butter, as instructed.

Added in the other half of the butter and cooked the shallots. Mushrooms are hanging out in a bowl off to the side–I used the same pan to keep the flavor (and avoid having to wash a ton of dishes).

The wine and fish broth was added, cooked down, and then the scallops were tossed in.

I removed the scallops after cooking (as directed) and kept them warm in the pan I used originally to thaw them.

After removing the scallops, I put the whipping cream in–fingers crossed that the dairy-free cream I used will thicken.

I wasn’t super thrilled with how it was thickening, so I added a dollop of lactose-free (but still real dairy) sour cream to mimic the recommended crème fraîche. After it finally started getting to where it needed to be, I added in the cayenne pepper.

I tossed my mushrooms back into the warming pan with my scallops for just a minute to get everything to the same serving temperature. You can see how much the sauce thickened and cooked down in the background pan.

One more close-up picture of the sauce. This was a big pan, but it really didn’t create much more sauce than exactly what was needed to execute the recipe.

I plated two shells per dish, distributed the scallop-mushroom mixture between all 4, and spooned sauce on top of each.

Final plate–as it was supposed to be. I even added some fresh-grown Italian parsley picked from my own backyard garden. This recipe felt very Simply Delicious, but also very…French. I don’t know if I’d eat it for dinner on a regular basis, but it was a fun throwback for a weeknight dinner.

Oh, and if you want to see what the first attempt at this dish looked like–here it is. I told you it wasn’t pretty.

Grade: B+