Absinthe Bay Scallop Gratin

Posted on 01 April 2010

I am surprised it has taken me over a month to mention that I absolutely adore Ina Garten! I love her simple style of cooking and her ethos of using the best ingredients that one can afford is one that I fully embrace. Her most recent book, Back to Basics, is a continual source of inspiration and, looking through it gives me ideas about future parties or events that we could have.  I was drawn to this recipe as scallops are one of the easiest seafood items to cook and you are able to find sustainably farmed scallops relatively easily.

This recipe, from her latest book, is fully loaded when it comes to flavor and tastes as though it would take a lot longer to make than it does.  Honestly, the most time consuming part of the dish is waiting for the butter to come to room temperature (30 minutes should do it). It is perfect for a dinner party when you have to rush back from work and put something in the oven pronto. You can even jump in the shower and get ready as the butter is softening!

I like to serve these gratins with some fresh, crusty French bread and a simple salad with a white balsamic dressing.

Notes: This recipe calls for bay scallops, which are smaller than regular sea scallops, (I’ve included a close up below). These can be tricky to find if you do not live near their native habitat, which is the North East of the US. If you are unable to find them you can use sea scallops cut into quarters. Also I mention in the ingredients that the muscles have to be removed from the scallops, you can do this by hand or with a small knife. (The muscle is the part of the scallop that attached it to its’ shell in the ocean.)

This recipe did not originally contain absinthe, the Barefoot Contessa recipe used Pernod, which of course works here as well.  I didn’t happen to have any Pernod on hand when I first made this dish but, of course, I had absinthe lying around, a leftover from one of our holiday parties!, and tried it out.  Now, I would not make the dish without it.  I prefer the intrigue and edginess absinthe lends this dish.  Absinthe has the anise qualities which this dish needs, and if absinthe was good enough for Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Hemingway, Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allen Poe, it’s good enough for all of our dinner parties!

I recommend 6-inch wide gratin dishes.  I use a mixture of these casserole dishes (which I love! So handy for dips as well) and the 9.5″ by 5.5″ size of these Pillivuyt china serving dishes (they can make anything look fancy, even crudites)

Bay Scallop Gratins
3 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 medium shallot, minced
1 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, minced (Parma ham in the UK)
2 tbsp parsley, minced plus extra for garnish
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp absinthe (or Pernod)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup panko (Japanese tempura flakes)
3 tbsp dry white wine
1 lb fresh bay scallops, muscles removed

1. Heat oven to 425°. Place 3 (6-inch round) on a baking sheet.

2. Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer (i.e. KitchenAid) fitted with the paddle attachment or use a hand mixer. On low speed, add the garlic, shallot, prosciutto, parsley, lemon juice, absinthe, salt, and pepper and mix until combined. Fold in the panko and set aside.

3. Preheat your broiler (grill in the UK), if it is separate from your oven. (I haven’t seen this before but just in case you have some complicated setup.)

4. Place 1 tbsp white wine at the bottom of each gratin dish. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels and distribute them evenly among the 3 dishes. Spoon the butter mixture over the top of the scallops. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the top is golden and sizzling and the scallops are just done.

5. Place the dishes under the broiler for 1-2 minutes to get the bread crumbs crunchier, making sure to be extra vigilant in case they become too well done.

6. Finish with a squeeze of lemon and some chopped parsley at top.

9 responses to Absinthe Bay Scallop Gratin

  • Cicely Thomas says:

    Every single recipe that Ina has in any of her books comes out perfectly! That is to say, I very much agree with Tiny Test’s Kitchen’s taste (no pun intended) and lovely additions/substitutions.

    • admin says:

      Thank you! Ina’s books are amazing! Always correct and everything looks so good and so easy to make. I’ll be posting more vegetarian friendly recipe soon (in fact should be tomorrow and Monday!)

  • Brian says:

    This looks delicious. I am making this for Laura when we all get back home. Your pics and descriptions are making my mouth water.

    • admin says:

      That is so cute of you Brian – you’re such a good husband! And thank you so much for checking in!

      This scallop dish is really amazing. You have to let me know how it turns out. We can’t wait to see y’all in a couple of weeks!

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Vienna Bradley, Vienna. Vienna said: New post up – Absinthe Bay Scallop Gratin – perfect for a Thursday evening dinner party! http://bit.ly/9CIGeV […]

  • Schark says:

    One small problem, “Also I mention in the ingredients that the muscles have to be removed from the scallops, you can do this by hand or with a small knife.(The muscle is the part of the scallop that attached it to its’ shell in the ocean.)”

    The scallop meat that we are referring to IS the abductor muscle that holds the shells together. Throw that out and there is no scallop.

    The little white stripe you refer to is not muscle but connective tissue that is either removed or eaten. True aficionados enjoy the contrast. It is a matter of taste.

    • Vienna says:

      Oops! You are right! I for one do not love the taste of the tab. I eat a lot of scallops (I adore them and they are so easy to pop in a pan and quickly saute) and don’t appreciate the tougher texture but as you said it’s all a matter of taste. I hope you enjoyed the recipe if you made it! Thank you so much for your comment and pointing out the mistake. Hope you come back soon, Vienna

  • We loved it & shared with our fans on Facebook!!

    • Vienna says:

      Hi! Thank you so much! I am so glad you liked the recipe. We are quite the fans of your absinthe as you can see! Thank you again for sharing, Vienna*

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