A couple months ago, I was lucky enough to snag a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking at the Book Barn before all the Julie & Julia hype hit full force. Last night, with all my good CT friends tied up with other plans and not really feeling great enough to go out (getting over a nasty summer cold), I decided to cook myself and Noe a restaurant-quality meal at home.
This was my first Julia entree. I've dabbled with some of the soups and side dishes, but this was my inaugural main course. I selected Coquilles St. Jacques a la Provencale for several reasons, not the least of which was it did NOT have a note anywhere commenting that it would take approximately three hours to prepare (it was actually a fairly short forty-ish minutes). I also picked it because the only thing I had to go purchase was the scallops - everything else (butter, herbs, cheese, etc) were more or less staples that I had on hand.
After swinging by Thames River for wine tasting (even though my senses were definitely still compromised from the cold) I picked up the fresh sea scallops and a baguette (this recipe looked pretty butter-rific and I figured the baguette could soak up some sauce) and headed home to work.
Of course, I started by pouring myself a glass of wine. I chose my current favorite white wine, the 2008 Chateau La Rame Bordeaux Blanc. Not only is this sauvignon blanc extremely tasty to sip; I was planning on using some of it in the recipe. I had seen further down that the scallops would be simmered in "dry white wine", and I thought the minerality of the La Rame would add some nice flavor and the citrusy acidity might cut through some of that butter.
A great thing about Mastering the Art of French Cooking is that it breaks down recipes into sections and lists the ingredients you need for that section by the instructions - so you know what you need, when you need it. I began chopping a yellow onion, shallot, and garlic clove in preparation to heat them with some butter (I think every step of this recipe called for butter) in a small saucepan.
When the five minutes were up, I took the cover off the skillet, brought the whole mixture to a quick boil to thicken up the liquid, then divided the scallops and liquid between a couple oven-safe Pyrex dishes. I covered each dish with some grated Gruyere and dotted them with pieces of cut up butter, then through them under the broiler until the cheese began to brown.
The scallops themselves? Slightly sweet and not at all tough - in a word, perfect.
I didn't even make a side dish for this meal -we ate it with a simple salad and some cut-up baguette to soak up the excess butter mixture (which was almost as delicious as the scallops). I served it with more Chateau La Rame Bordeaux Blanc.
This was quite possibly the best meal Noe and I have eaten in the past six months. He even gave me a high five when he was finished eating it. If you are intimidated by Julia's recipes, or by cooking seafood, or by the thought of eating six tablespoons of butter, I highly recommend getting over it. You won't be sorry.
Happy New Year!
2 years ago