Notes on a Recipe – Jacques Pepin’s Scallops Grenobolise

12 Nov

Last week ended much the same way it began…by not having an important ingredient for something I had planned to make.  Even after I pledged that I would cross check my grocery list against my menu, I ended up not having any chocolate for the Cinnamon Scented Baked Chocolate Mousse Cake. But I was determined to give both of the Fast Food @ Home recipes a try, even if it meant another trip to the store.  I’d have to say that I’m pretty glad I did.  Because this was one fabulous meal.

Let’s talk about Jacques’ Scallops.  In a word…divine.  I opted not to do the toasted bread topping and I don’t think the dish suffered any because of it.  Here’s what surprised me…I didn’t expect that the acidity of the lemon and capers would work so well against the richness of the scallops.  But it was the perfect compliment.  Of course Jacques would know that…and now we do too.  Although I do have to question the 6 tablespoons of butter that he calls for in the sauce.  I found that to be too much. Even I, who hearts butter, have my limits.  Sorry Jacques, but I’m going to cut that down to only 3 tablespoons.

I also chose not to put the oil on the scallops and instead heated it up in the pan. I figure it’s all going to end up there anyway.  Why the extra step?  And speaking of extra steps, warmed plates are great in a restaurant but when I’m hustling my way through a recipe at home, that’s the first thing to go.  This is not to say that if Mr. Pepin were to make this dish for me I would decline a gently warmed plate.  I just hope he won’t be offended if I don’t reciprocate that particular hospitality.

I usually use frozen scallops.  But I bought fresh one for this dish and it was worth every single penny.  It really didn’t cost that much more and the difference in flavor and texture justified the expense.  The fresh scallops were delicate and buttery even though I cooked them a bit longer than the recipe called for. to get them nicely browned on both sides.  Frozen scallops, in comparison, seem to come out tougher and with less flavor.  That’s my personal preference.  You do what you like best.

The dish was served with quinoa that had been cooked with garlic.  Next time, I might try roasting a head of garlic and mixing that into the finished quinoa instead.  While SFC methodically cut his scallops into smaller bites, I gobbled mine down…sometimes my table manners are nowhere to be found.

But I promise that if you come to dinner at our house, I will be on my best behavior.  Just don’t expect a warmed plate.

Scallops Grenobloise

From “More Fast Food My Way,” by Jacques Pepin

  • 2 slices white bread
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil (divided use)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 pound large scallops (about 16), rinsed under cold water to remove any sand
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • 6 tablespoons ( 3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup diced ( 1/2 -inch) white mushrooms (about 3)
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the bread into 1/2 -inch dice and toss the bread with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Spread the pieces on a cookie sheet and bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or until browned. Set aside.

Peel the lemon, removing the skin and the white pith underneath. Cut between the membranes to remove totally clean segments of lemon flesh. Cut into 1/2 -inch pieces until you have about 2 tablespoons diced lemon flesh.

Remove any adductor muscles still attached to the scallops. Sprinkle scallops with the salt, pepper and the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil.

Heat a large, nonstick skillet over high heat until very hot, then add the scallops. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 2 minutes on each side. They should be nicely browned. Arrange 4 scallops on each of 4 serving plates and sprinkle on the lemon pieces, capers and bread cubes.

Heat the butter in a small skillet and add the mushrooms. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes, or until the butter browns lightly. Add the vinegar. Spoon the sauce over the scallops, sprinkle the parsley on top and serve.


10 Responses to “Notes on a Recipe – Jacques Pepin’s Scallops Grenobolise”

  1. Chris 23 January 2009 at 8:55 am #

    I tried this recipe as well… Omitting the capers (I was fresh out) and the mushrooms (girlfriend doesn’t do mushrooms) and it still turned out perfectly. She said it was one of the best meals she had ever had and it was so simple to make. I really think the key to this recipe is balance… Searing the scallops to bring out the sweetness, richnees of the brown butter, acidity of the lemons.

    I served it with a side of grilled asparagus with a dab of hollandaise sauce.

    Happy eating…


  2. Sandy 10 June 2010 at 1:47 am #

    I made this using salmon in place of the scallops, as Jacques suggested during the episode. It was fantastic. The combination of the buttery bread crumbs and the tart lemon and capers was subtle and delicious. I also made the asparagus with mustard sauce from the episode, and that was a perfect accompaniment. I would not hesitate to make this meal for a special occasion.

  3. Wendi 10 June 2010 at 7:37 am #

    Sandy, I need to search over at PBS and see if they have the episode posted because I’ve never seen it. It never occurred to me to try this with salmon but it’s totally genius. Did you pan cook the salmon? How long? I’m intrigued and now want to revisit this recipe stat!

  4. Jenna 12 April 2011 at 11:25 am #

    Oh, oh, OH! You’re absolutely right. I must try this.

  5. Wendi 12 April 2011 at 11:35 am #

    Jenna, I need to revisit this recipe myself. It was GOOOD.

  6. J.M. Keller 31 December 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    Since I have been following Mssr. Pepin for a very long time, I never alter a Pepin recipe when I make it the first time!

    A warm plate is a must! It’s very simple, when you start to prepare a meal, turn your oven on low and slip the plates in. I would refuse a meal in a fine restaurant if I was served it on a cold plate, but of course, fine restaurants don’t make a mistake like that…do they?

    Wonderful recipe, I am making it for my wife’s birthday dinner tonight.


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