Recipe: Coquilles St. Jacques | Food and Wine Pairing

Adventures in Eating: Coquilles St. Jacques
Rosemarie | August 1984

One of my favorite pastimes, and perhaps yours, is reading cook­books! They are part of my recrea­tional reading. I recently found a box of recipes cut out during high school days. Very often, my mind takes off and I wonder how, where, and when some recipes came to be. Names like Angels on Horseback (oysters wrapped with bacon), Blueberry Buckle, Shoo-Fly Pie, continue to grab my imagination.

Recently, I came across the story of a seafood entree which is one of my favorites. It can be used as a first course, or a main entree when served with a hearty salad and crisp French bread.

Coquilles St. Jacques was a dish conceived to honor the annual pilgrimage of half a million people to the burial site of St. James, the patron saint of Christians around 812, located in Santiago de Compostella in Spain. The pilgrim­age started from the Tour St. Jac­ques (Tower of St. Jacques) in Paris. (St. James translates to St. Jacques in French). Many miracles were and still are attrib­uted to him. One such miracle states that a bridegroom riding his horse on the sands was swept to sea. The bride appealed to Santiago, and the groom was raised, wearing a white robe and covered with cockleshells. “I shall take the cockleshell,” became the pil­grims’ cry as they would start the pilgrimage. It is a 900 mile jour­ney and still practiced today.

Scallops cooked in wine and served in cockleshells is now a famous dish befitting this yearly trek. Quite appropriately, it is called:

 

COQUILLES ST. JACQUES

1 lb bay or sea scallops

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 t salt

Dash of white pepper, cayenne, and nutmeg

1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

1/4 cup sliced green onion

1/4 cup butter

3 T flour

3/4 cup half and half

1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese

1 1/4 cups buttered bread crumbs

 

Rinse scallops in cold water (if scallops are large, cut in halves or quarters). Combine scallops, water, wine, salt and pepper in saucepan and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, or until scallops are tender. Remove scallops from pan and reserve cooking liquid. Simmer liquid until it is reduced to 3/4 cup. Saute mushrooms and green onion in butter until tender and stir in flour. Add reserved cooking liquid & half and half and cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Fold in scallops and 1/4 cup cheese. Spoon scallop mixture into 4 large baking shells or individual 10 ounce baking dishes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Edge dishes with crumbs and bake in 375° oven for 15 minutes or until crumbs are lightly browned.

Bon appétit!

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