Cockles Saint Jack ⁑

Coquille St. Jacques in medieval times referred to the Shell of Saint James, the traditional emblem of the apostle James, son of Zebedee. Today it refers to the classic French preparation of scallops in a creamy sauce, under a crust of bread crumbs and cheese. My version of this truly wonderful dish mimics the classic recipe, but using ingredients more within my dietary guidelines where possible, and, I must say, does not fall short of that original at all.

The filling
  • vegetable oil spray
  • 1 tbsp minced shallots or onion
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • ¼ tsp <salt>
  • pinch of white pepper
  • 4 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated
  • ½ cup water from the rehydrated mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp bacon bits
  • ½ lb scallops, washed
The sauce
  • 2 tbsp <butter>
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 ½ cups scallop liquid
  • ¼ cup fat-free half-and-half
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp <salt>
  • pinch white pepper
  • ¼ cup X*
  • ¼ cup Swiss cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup Swiss cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup Asiago cheese, grated

Fill a glass measuring cup with water, add the dried mushrooms and bacon, and microwave on high heat until the water boils. Set aside until the mushrooms have become reconstituted. Drain, save ½ cup of the liquid, and finely slice the mushrooms.

Spray a medium saucepan with vegetable spray, add the shallots or onions, and sweat them over medium heat a few minutes until they become translucent. Add the wine, bay leaf, parsley, <salt>, white pepper, mushrooms and bacon bits, and reserved half cup of water to the pan. Bring this to a simmer and let it simmer for another five minutes.

Add the scallops to the pan, reestablish the simmer, and continue for a minute or so, just until the scallops become an opaque white. Turn off the heat and remove the scallops to a bowl while the rest of the preparation continues.

In another saucepan, make the sauce: start with melting the <butter>, adding the flour, and then whisking these together to form a roux. Remove from the heat, add half a cup of the scallop-infused liquid, and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Add the half-and-half, bring the mixture to a simmer, and maintain the simmer, stirring constantly, until the flour has thickened. Remove from the heat, add the lemon juice, <salt> and pepper, and let this cool somewhat before adding the X; whisk vigorously while adding the X. Finally, fold in the grated Swiss cheese, raise the heat again, and whisk while the mixture thickens a little more.

Spray scallolp shells, if you have them, or ramekins if not, with vegetable spray. Distribute the scallops among them equally, depending on appetites, and spoon over the sauce. Top each with a mixture of Swiss and Asiago cheeses that have been grated in a food processor. Put into an oven on the top shelf and broil for a few minutes, until the topping has melted, is dappled in brown, and the sauce has completely thickened.

Remove from the oven, serve in the scallop shells or ramekins on dinner plates.

Serves 2, maybe 3.