Saint-Jacques à la bretonne

saint-jacques bretonne2

Sea scallops, Brittany style

This dish makes a dynamite starter and can be expanded into a main dish with the addition of potatoes. It is quite quick to prepare, and should be served with a crisp white wine — or, if you’d like to get deeply into the style of Brittany, with crisp hard cider.

For best results, use fresh scallops from the fishmonger, although frozen scallops will work fine as well. In either case, be sure to rinse the scallops before beginning, and dry them carefully with paper towels.

In France, scallops are sold with the coral attached, but not to worry if they are only available without the coral where you live. The dish will be just as tasty.

saint-jacques bretonne3If you plan to serve potatoes with the scallops, get them going first to ensure they will be ready at the same time. They may be boiled or steamed, and served in their jackets or not. In the photo at right, they were peeled, sliced and interspersed with the scallops to make a nouvelle cuisine style plate.

This recipe is adapted from Cuisine de France by Paul Bocuse (Flammarion), and the quantities are for 2 people.

6 large or 12 medium sea scallops
2 tbsp. flour
1 lemon
2 tbsp. (30 grams) unsalted butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp. finely minced fresh parsley
1 tbsp. crème fraîche or heavy cream

Rinse the scallops and dry thoroughly between paper towels. If using frozen scallops, allow to defrost completely before rinsing.

Using a very sharp knife, slice the scallops in half horizontally, first detaching the coral if necessary.

Spoon the flour into a shallow bowl. Roll the scallop pieces in the flour. Knock off as much excess flour as possible and place on a clean plate.

Squeeze the lemon into a small bowl. Have the bowl lemon juice at the ready, as the cooking goes very fast.

Preheat the oven to gas mark 3, or medium warm (200 F, 90 C).

Heat the butter to sizzling in a large skillet. Add the scallop pieces and cook about two minutes until the bottoms are nicely browned. Flip the pieces over, pour on the lemon juice and cook another two minutes. Turn off heat.

Remove the scallops from the frying pan into an ovenproof dish. Salt lightly and grind on some black pepper. Sprinkle with the minced parsley. Place the scallops in the oven to keep them warm while you are finishing the preparation.

Using a wooden spatula, scrape the bottom of your skillet to incorporate the browned bits left from the scallop juices into the melted butter. Place over a medium flame. Add the cream and heat, stirring with your wooden spatula, until you have a smooth, unctuous mixture. Do not allow to boil.

Transfer the scallops onto individual plates or, for an original presentation, into scallop shells. If serving with potatoes, place them alongside or slice them and intersperse the slices with the scallops. Drizzle with the cream sauce. Serves 2.

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