Given that no one in my household is making any income at the moment, Christmas was necessarily a smaller affair this year. My family held ourselves to stocking stuffers and a couples Secret Santa, and RJ and I agreed that we would not exchange gifts (not that he listened, the bastard!). One of my favorite gifts I gave this year was a Christmas Eve feast for my mother-in-law, Patti, and her partner Roger. I planned out a multi-course menu and RJ and I worked out wine pairings from some of the bottles we brought back from Napa.
The menu included whipped brie from The French Laundry Cookbook and various bruschetta toppings from the A16: Food + Wine cookbook, paired with a 2005 Schramsberg Blanc des Blancs. This was followed by a bite of scallop gratin (see below) and a square of crispy roasted pork belly with apple compote from the The River Cottage Meat Book, paired with a 2006 Cakebread Napa Valley Chardonnay. We then had the FABULOUS arugula, beet, and fennel salad with olive dressing from A16 and Gordon Hammersley’s Roast Chicken (recipe to follow soon), paired with a 1997 Shafer Merlot (to die for!). Dessert was the vanilla walnut soup from the French Laundry (if you are skeptical, read this post from Carol Blymire) and crepes which failed miserably, though fortunately we were not hungry at that point!
Not all of our pictures came out very well – we were too busy cooking, eating, and enjoying one another’s company. However, the stars of the show have already become regulars in my kitchen, so if I don’t have pictures from Christmas Eve, I will share photos from other evenings when I made the same dish. For example, during our holiday feast, I made the following recipe using just one large sea scallop per person, rather than a handful of bay scallops, but below I have reproduced the full-size recipe from the Barefoot Contessa. I actually have never made it with bay scallops — usually I will just chop up the large ones, but I have since found out how much cheaper the little mini scallops are, and will certainly try them the next time!
Bay Scallop Gratin, from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 large garlic cloves, minced
2 medium shallots, minced
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto di Parma, minced
4 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons Pernod (In absence of Pernod, you might try adding minced fennel bulb to the butter mixture to add the anise flavor)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 cup panko
6 tablespoons dry white wine
2 pound fresh bay scallops
Lemon, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. 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 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.