The pressure started on Thanksgiving and will extend into January. The pressure, of course, is to keep the weight off in the face of food, food, food. Because of that, we have been trying to eat wisely, including a lot of seafood. I found some frozen scallops at the local Sprouts, and thought they would be tasty even though I wasn’t sure how I would prepare them. Scallops are delicious grilled over an open flame, but I have already abandoned the outdoor grill for the winter. Besides, that approach is reserved for big diver scallops, and the frozen ones were smaller – about 36 to the pound.
My other favorite ways to do scallops are the two recipes for coquilles St. Jacques in the first volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. One of the recipes is in the Parisian style with a thick cream sauce. The other is in the Provençale style with herbs. I decided to meld the recipes and add some touches that would be reminiscent of Santa Fe. That would mean ground chiles, cilantro, and perhaps a few pine nuts.
Along with the scallops, I decided to use up some leftover grits from the refrigerator. (Grits are definitely not Santa Fe.) To give them some added flavor, I added egg and chopped parsley.
Santa Fe Style Coquilles St. Jacques
- ½ pound (about 18-20 medium) scallops
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter + more for topping
- 5 medium cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 2 scallions, minced
- 1 cup white wine
- water to cover
- 2 tablespoons flour
- ½ cup milk
- 2 egg yolks
- ½ cup cream
- 1-2 teaspoons ground Chimayó red chile (to taste)
- ¼ cup pine nuts (optional)
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- salt and pepper
- ¼ cup asadero cheese, grated (Use Swiss cheese if you can’t find asadero)
- Heat the butter over medium-high heat in a small sauté pan. When it has stopped foaming, add the scallops and brown them lightly. Remove from the heat, reserving the browned butter.
- In the same pan with the reserved browned butter, combine the browned scallops, mushrooms, scallions, and wine. Add enough water to just cover the mixture. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the scallops and mushrooms. Return the liquid to the boil and reduce to about one-half. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour and milk.
- In a bowl, beat the eggs lightly and stir in the cream. Beat in the still-hot wine and milk mixture. Return to the heat set at low, stirring constantly until the mixture has just thickened. Do not let it get too hot or the eggs will scramble. Remove from the heat, and stir in the chile, cilantro, and optional pine nuts.
- Mix the sauce with the scallops and mushrooms. Transfer to 2 well-buttered ramekins. Top with grated cheese, dot with butter, and heat under a pre-warmed broiler until the top is browned and bubbling. Serve immediately.
Fried Grits Cakes
- 1½ cups leftover cooked grits
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- salt and pepper
- Combine the grits, egg, and parsley until well mixed.
- Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Divide into two cakes and fry in about ¼ inch of peanut oil over a medium flame until the cakes are browned on both sides. Serve while still warm.