Cooking On A Budget: Scallop Casserole

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Scallop Casserole


This very special dish is something that my husband has made throughout our marriage. It definitely is not an inexpensive meal (unless you can get scallops on special); however, we savored this on a special occasion. Our daughter requested it as her birthday celebration dinner almost every year since she was about eleven years old. When my husband first made this dish he had a recipe he always used. This is an updated version with just a few minor changes and it has ramped up the flavor to a whole new level of lusciousness and taste.

The key changes to the recipe was a different wine, red onion vs. shallots and using FRESH scallops in place of previously frozen scallops from the grocery store.
We purchased 1 lb. of scallops and portioned out 1/2 lb. for each of us and cooked them in two separate gratin dishes. Some of the scallops were larger than others so they were cut in half. I could not quite finish all of mine but they did not go to waste - reheated for a lunch meal.
Taking all of this into consideration, it's a great treat for two people with a good appetite. I would recommend the 1/2 lb. per person if you are planning on a splurge! If you buy sea scallops, cut them in half and your yield may serve more - ask your seafood market expert as to what they suggest.
If you plan on serving this to a small gathering of friends and you find that scallops are way out of your price range, you could also do it with lobster. Put the lobster in a boiling pot of water and cook only until the shell turns color and immediately remove the lobster and place it in an ice water bath. Pick out the lobster meat and adjust the cooking time for the casserole - my guess would be around 15-20 minutes tops as you don't want to over cook that wonderful lobster meat.
Another avenue would be to use uncooked shrimp. Any of the aforementioned shell fish would taste marvelous. I just loved the flavor though from the fresh scallop - it gave off some great liquid while cooking and when all those flavors was ever so good. AND speaking of liquid - you might want to make a stock from the lobster shells to get that added liquid and flavor. Check below for making shrimp stock and follow the same procedure for making lobster stock.
  • 1 lb. fresh bay scallops
  • 1/4 cup red onion - finely diced
  • 1/3 cup or so white wine - Chardonnay is what we used
  • 3 tbsp. approximately of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 - 1 1/4 cups Ritz crackers - crushed to a fine mix
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a saute pan over medium low heat melt the butter.
  2. Add in the finely minced onion and cook until they become translucent. About 3-4 minutes.
  3. Next, de-glazed the pan with the white wine and cook down for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the fresh squeezed lemon juice and stir.
  5. Place the scallops in a casserole dish and pour the onion and wine mixture over the scallops.
  6. Top the casserole with the Ritz cracker crumbs.
  7. Cover with foil.
  8. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for about 45 minutes.
Plate up and serve with a baked potato and some side of vegetable or salad.

Notes: I usually have shrimp stock in my freezer. If you don’t have any on hand, you can make it with  shrimp shells or lobster shells. Put the shrimp shells or lobster shells in a sauce pot.  Add in 3-4 bay leaves, ½ tsp. kosher salt, and a small palm full of whole black peppercorns. Cover with water and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Strain the liquid and discard the shells.

My husband made this dish for my birthday because I enjoy it so much. We baked it in some gratin dishes I picked up while in New Hampshire a while back. Love the presentation of the individual dishes!

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