I don’t often buy bay scallops for myself. While they are the cheaper alternative to good sea scallops, most of the time bay scallops are soaked in solution and chemicals and they just don’t taste very good. The exception is if you can find “dry” or chemical-free bay scallops to use. These can be a lot better and can actually make for a great tasting and inexpensive seafood meal if you can catch them at just the right price. The trick can often be finding them dry and on sale, and I happened to stumble across them when I was shopping this past week so I picked up a pound. Bay scallops are great just sautéed over with some garlic, butter, white wine and parsley over rice or pasta, but I was looking to do something a little different this type out. I found a recipe from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa of the Food Network and this recipe sounded like it would taste great and took no time at all to make.
Bay Scallop Gratin
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium shallots, minced
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, minced
4 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons Pernod
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
6 tablespoons dry white wine
2 pounds bay scallops
Lemon, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place 6 (6-inch round) gratin dishes on a sheet pan.
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,prosciutto, parsley, lemon juice, Pernod, salt and pepper and mix until combined. With the mixer still on low, add the olive oil very slowly as though making a mayonnaise, until combined. Fold the panko bread crumbs in with a rubber spatula and set aside.
Place 1 tablespoon of the white wine in the bottom of each gratin dish. With a small, sharp knife, remove the white muscle and membrane from the side of each scallop and discard (many times this is already done with bay scallops, but if it’s not, you should do it). Pat the scallops dry with paper towels and distribute them evenly among the dishes. Spoon the garlic butter mixture over the top of the scallops. 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 for 2 minutes, until they are browned to your liking. Finish the dish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkling of chopped parsley over each dish and serve with crusty French bread.
Just a couple of things about this recipe. Since I was only making this for 3 of us, I cut the recipe in half and found that a pound of bay scallops was more than enough for 3 dishes. The recipe does call for a couple of items most people may not have on hand for cooking, but there are substitutions available. I do not have prosciutto on hand most times, so I simply fried a couple of pieces of bacon beforehand and crumbled them up to use in the dish. If you don’t have any white wine on hand or don’t like to cook with alcohol, don’t fret. I didn’t have any white wine either and just dotted the bottom of each dish with some extra-virgin olive oil. You could easily leave it out of the dish altogether. The same can be said of the Pernod, which is a particular brand of anise flavored liqueur. If you have anisette, ouzo or Sambuca, you can use them in the recipe instead if you really want the licorice-like flavor you get from them. I didn’t have any of them on hand, so I simply left it out and I don’t think it hurt the dish at all. One final thing about scallops in general – don’t overcook them. Scallops, whether sea scallops or bay scallops, need to be barely cooked cooked, just until they are opaque, otherwise it will feel like you are eating pencil erasers.
That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for some new recipes I have been trying, including a polenta pizza, a new chicken dish and a few other things I have planned. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!