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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Test Kitchen Tuesday - Ina Garten's Bay Scallop Gratin

The first snowflakes of the season fell today and now BAM, we're in a deep freeze.  Sure, the winter's gonna be long, but there is reason to rejoice; warm, cozy dishes and comforting foods are in our future. Bathing suits, on the other hand, are many months away so we may, just may, use a little butter. Could you tell that was an understatement?

Heavenly Bay Scallops Gratin, Photo: NK 
Tonight's seemingly luxurious yet incredibly easy appetizer, Bay Scallops Gratin, comes to us from fellow butter hedonist and goddess of simplified domesticity, Ina Garten. It is just the thing if you're looking for an elegant seafood starter for your next party, or even just for a special night in. Here in the New York area, Long Island Bay Scallops are in season and as sweet as ever. Add some breadcrumbs (panko, in this case), parsley, lemon and of course, a lot of garlic, and something wonderful will emerge from your oven. 

As always, here are some pointers below.

Tips: 

If you don't have small, oval gratins in which to cook these individual portions, use any other oven-safe, earthenware bowl of a similar size. 

I've posted Ina's recipe exactly as it appears on her site, The Barefoot Contessa. In making this dish myself, I did make one or two slight changes, you guessed it, to increase ease and convenience (two of my favorite words). 

First, I subbed the Pernod out for Sambuca, which I purchased in a mini-airplane bottle size (since the recipe only calls for a few tablespoons of it). The result was still delicious.
Preparing the Gratins, Photo: NK

Secondly, I omitted the chopped Prosciutto. I'd just spent a pretty penny on those bay scallops, and didn't feel like dipping into my pockets again. Also, I reasoned that this recipe would be rich and lovely with the butter and breadcrumbs alone. I don't doubt Ina, though. I'll try it with prosciutto one of these days. Note: You may have to add a bit of salt at the end if you don't use naturally salty prosciutto. I found it salty enough as is, however.

Finally, in step one of the recipe where you are called to blend the breadcrumbs with the softened butter using a mixer, I simply stirred everything together slowly, by hand. Using Butter that's fully softened and cut into small pieces will make achieving this easier. And you can skip having to clean your electric mixer! I'm lazy, what can I say?

OK! Let's cook. Thank you, Contessa, for yet another winner. 
Bon app├ętit!   

Bay Scallops Gratin
Recipe by Ina Garten, from her Back To Basics cookbook Serves 6

Ingredients:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature 
6 large garlic cloves, minced 
2 medium shallot, minced 
2 ounce thinly sliced prosciutto di Parma, minced 
4 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish 
2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 
2 tablespoon Pernod 
2 teaspoon kosher salt 
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
6 tablespoons good olive oil 
1/2 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes) 
6 tablespoons dry white wine 
2 pound fresh bay scallops 
Lemon, for garnish 

Method: 
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place 3 (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 slowly as though making mayonnaise, until combined. Fold the panko in with a rubber spatula and set aside. 

Preheat the broiler, if it’s separate from your oven. 

Place 1 tablespoon of the 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. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels and distribute them among the 3 dishes. Spoon the garlic butter evenly 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 browned. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkling of chopped parsley and serve immediately with crusty French bread.

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