One of the most exciting culinary happenings on the North Fork is the beginning of scallop season.
I remember the first time I ate one of these petite bivalves, as it sat perched in its shell while I was on a fishing excursion with a group of foodie friends.
Sweet, briny, creamy flesh, the size of a nickel, perched in their beautiful fan-like shell of St. James, for which these treats are named are the highlight of our winter menu.
We keep the presentation of scallops quite simple and almost always include high quality white wine, mild fresh herbs and a tiny bit of cream. Whether on their own with a bit of sautéed mushroom or tossed with bite-size pasta like orecchiette, these scallops are superb and like no others.
If it makes vegetarians feel less guilty, I can tell you that scallops, like all bivalves do not have brains. And if we do not eat them, they will be devoured by their other main predator, the Starfish. And since we generally don’t eat Starfish in America, we would be wasting food and this is very Un-American indeed.
Bay Scallops Cuvee
1 lb of Peconic bay scallops (don’t expect your dish to taste the same without these particular scallops) You may order them from Southold Fish Market or Alice’s Fish Market in Greenport).
4 scallop dishes, buttered
1/2 cup of fresh mushrooms. I like local Shitake or Oyster mushrooms from Long Island Mushroom Co.
1/4 cup of grated Gruyere cheese
1 shallot finely minced
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of champagne or dry sparkling wine
2 tablespoons of cream
Preheat oven on broiler setting for 15 minutes.
Sauté the mushrooms with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Saute the shallots until transparent and add cup of champagne
Simmer until reduced half way and add the sautéed mushrooms and cream. Taste for salt but take great caution as the scallops have their own salt.
Place scallops in scallop dishes and sprinkle a mild herb like parsley.
Pour sauce mixture evenly on scallops. Remember that the scallops release their own liquid which will contribute to the sauce in the dish, so do not be tempted to add more sauce.
Top with a bit of grated Gruyere and breadcrumbs (optional) and place in broiler for 10 minutes or bake at 475 for 20 minutes.
Serve in the scallop dish with an additional dish underneath is to prevent your guests from burning themselves. A great crusty bread is perfect for mopping up the sauce of the excellent starter, followed by a fresh salad and a pasta course and call it dinner. This is also another idea for one of your courses for The Feast of Seven Fishes.