Posted by: njbrown | August 15, 2012

Julia’s Coquilles St. Jacques

Today would have been Julia’s 100th birthday, and even Google is honoring her.  It makes me sad that there are a growing number of people who never had the fun of learning from Julia’s television shows.  She was completely unflappable, had a great sense of humor, and a wonderful zest for life – especially for cooking.  Almost single-handedly, she brought North American food from meat and potatoes and Jell-O to refined cuisine, and the Cooking Network, the Food Channel and our wide variety of “celebrity chefs” have their origin in her work.  If you haven’t seen Julia before, or want to relive cooking with Julia, just click here:

Celebrating Julia Child’s 100th Birthday

When I got thinking of what I could make in honor of this milestone, Coquilles St. Jacques came to mind.

Julia’s Coquilles St. Jacques (Scallops Gratinéed in Their Shells)

If you like plump, delicious small scallops in a wonderful wine and cream sauce, topped with cheese and served in beautiful scallop shells, this is the dish for you.  Julia said it may be served as a first course or luncheon dish, but I enjoy it for dinner, too.

I found my scallop shells without difficulty in a kitchen supply store.  Mine are about 5 inches by 5 inches, and hold a nice serving.  For dinner, I would give each person two.  Julia’s’ recipe called for sea scallops (quartered) or for New England Bay  Scallops, but I think the Bay scallops are much nicer, and have specified them below.

Julia’s Coquilles St. Jacques (Scallops Gratinéed in Their Shells)

(Paraphrased from The Way to Cook)

For 8 to 10 as a first course 6 as a main course


  • 1 ½ Tbs minced shallots or scallions
  • ⅔ cup dry white French vermouth
  • ½ cup water, plus more if needed
  • 1 smallish imported bay leaf
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 cups (1 ½ pounds) bay scallops
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 3 Tbs flour
  • ¾ cup or so heavy cream
  • Salt, freshly ground white pepper, and drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Milk, as needed
  • ¼ cup grated Swiss cheese


  1. In 2-quart covered stainless saucepan, simmer shallots or scallions slowly with the vermouth, water, bay leaf, and salt for 3 minutes.
  2. Add scallops (that have been rinsed in cold water) and a little water if needed – the liquid should almost but not quite cover the scallops.  Bring just to the simmer, and simmer for just a few seconds, until lightly springy.
  3. Let scallops cool in the liquid 10 minutes or more, to pick up its flavor.
  4. Remove scallops to a bowl, and boil down the poaching liquid to 1 cup.
  5. Make velouté sauce by cooking butter and flour together 2 minutes without coloring.
  6. Off heat, beat in hot poaching liquid and cream.  Season and simmer 3 minutes, adding droplets of milk if sauce is too thick.
  7. Fold enough of the sauce into the scallops to enrobe them, divide them among the shells and top each with ½ tablespoon of grated cheese.
  8. (May be prepared ahead of time to this point, covered and refrigerated.)
  9. Arrange shells on baking sheet (sheet can be lined with crumpled foil if the shells are unsteady).
  10. Just before serving, set about 4 inches below a hot broiler just until bubbling hot and the cheese topping has browned nicely.


  1. I just made this for a potluck at church tomorrow. It’s great! Thank you very much c:

    • I’m so glad! Thank you for letting me know.

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