Scallops in the Shell with Cream and Vermouth

Fresh scallops are very plump and good around Christmas time, and this is my own favourite way of serving them. The recipe has the advantage of requiring no last-minute fuss - it even freezes well and can be cooked straight from the freezer.

Serves 6 as a starter

This recipe is from Delia's Christmas Easy Magazine 2003

Scallops in the Shell with Cream and Vermouth
 6-8 large plump scallops, with their corals if possible
 425 ml dry vermouth
 75g butter (plus 10g extra for the sauce)
 1 small onion, finely chopped
 175g button mushrooms, sliced
 50g plain flour
 225g double cream
 3 tbsp white breadcrumbs
 11/2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
You will also need 6 large scallop shells, or 6 heatproof 4-in (10-cm) china gratin dishes of a similar size, well buttered.


Start by slicing the white parts of each scallop into rounds about 5mm thick, and put the corals on one side. Now to poach the scallops: pour the vermouth into a deep frying pan and bring it up to a gentle simmer, then pop the scallops in and, when it comes back to simmering point, cook for exactly 30 seconds.

Remove them with a draining spoon to a plate and poach the corals for 1 minute and transfer them to join the scallops (reserving the poaching liquid to make the sauce).

Now melt 75g of butter in a medium saucepan and add the onion and let it cook over a medium heat for a few minutes, then add the mushrooms and some seasoning, turn the heat down and cook gently for about 15 minutes.

After that sprinkle in the flour and stir to soak up all the juices, add the poaching liquid very gradually, stirring continuously till you have a thick smooth sauce, then continue to simmer gently for 4-5 minutes.

After that, take the pan off the heat and stir in the extra 10g butter and the double cream, taste to check the seasoning and leave on one side to cool. When it's cooled, stir in the poached scallops and the corals, and divide the mixture among  the prepared dishes.

Combine the breadcrumbs with the Parmesan and sprinkle all over, before covering with clingfilm and chilling till needed.

Before serving preheat the oven to gas mark 6, 200C then place the shells on a baking tray and cook on the centre shelf for 30 minutes from the fridge, or 45 minutes from frozen, until they are golden brown and starting to bubble at the edges.  

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