Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fast Food His Way - Jacques Pepin's Scallops Grenobloise

OK, I'll admit...about 10 years ago watching cooking shows on a Saturday morning was the last thing I would ever consider fun.

Then I watched this guy Jacques Pepin carve out & re-build a roast chicken in a few easy yet deliberate cuts, then make decorative mushrooms & olive rabbits with a paring knife, and finally slap together a delicious unpretentious appetizer in under 15 minutes flat. He was like a walking culinary encyclopedia of technique.

I realized that I could learn something from this guy; knife techniques, tricks of the trade, revealed flavor combinations, and essential how-to's of cooking...he was old school but reminded me of a professor the way he approached his 'lessons'. Here's the link to THE book on cooking if you're like interested observer & home cook.

I was browsing in the Philadelphia Free Library the other day and saw Jacques had come out with a follow-up to his 'Fast Food' series More Fast Food My Way.

The series is built to appeal to those people too smart to fall for Rachel Ray's schlock but who know they are seriously lacking inspiration and need to spice up their drop-of-the-hat, guests-popped-by or clear-out-your-pantry repertoires.

I spotted a dish I wanted to try out using none other than a favorite ingredient on Top Chef...seared scallops. (If you've been following the show, you'll know that Top Scallop Jamie seems to be the chef that can't leave the scallop behind, compulsively cooking them up in every challenge).

We started with another little recipe in Jacques book, Goat Cheese Toasts. Make sure you use good quality bread here...this baguette was from Metropolitan Bakery in Reading Terminal Market.

I highlighted the one thing that caught my eye about this...using a vegetable peeler to get a paper-thin sliver of garlic to press into the way to impart a kiss of garlic.
Preheat the broiler. Cut as many 1/4-inch slices from a baguette as you need for serving. Arrange the slices side by side on a baking sheet. Cut enough 1/4-inch-thick slices from a tubelike container of goat cheese (dental floss is good for slicing the cheese) for each of the bread rounds. Press a slice of cheese on each slice of bread, taking care to cover the entire surface of the bread so it doesn't burn under the broiler. Sprinkle a small amount of herbes de Provence on each toast and a bit of freshly ground black pepper. Using a vegetable peeler, remove thin slices from a large peeled garlic clove and press 1 sliver in the center of the cheese on each toast. Sprinkle each toast with a few drops of olive oil. Slide the toasts under the broiler, so they are 4 to 5 inches from the heat source, for about 2 minutes, or until the tops are bubbly, hot, and lightly browned. Arrange the toasts on a serving platter. Cool for about 5 minutes before serving.
The dish that interested me the most was a Seared Scallop with a Grenobloise sauce. I'd never heard of this sauce, but I noticed the recipe called for wedges of lemon flesh or supremes...we'd just used clementine supremes for a scallop salad, so this seemed to me to be the next step.

I've never had Grenobloise sauce, but the main elements seem to be:
  • Lemon
  • Butter
  • Caper
We liked Jacques version because instead of throwing everything into a sautee pan, you combined on the plate, allowing for more flavor separation. The bread-cubes soaked up the browned butter and were a great contrast to the soft sweet scallops, but the salt of the caper & sour of the lemon cut through the dish to create a great balance...taking the time to get a little bit of each component on one fork-full yielded a flavor-bomb...crunchy smooth seared sweet buttery salty bright tang.

Here's how the prep went down
  1. Made bread cubes (1/2 inch)...rolled in oil and then crisped in 350 oven till crunchy, not brown
  2. supremed out the's a vid on that, but once you've seen it down once, you get it.
  3. Heat some butter and then sautee mushrooms...leave it going while you do the scallops
...and the main steps
  1. Next sear your seasoned (S&P) scallops in some peanut or olive oil
  2. Plate the scallop, sprinkle on a fair amount of bread-cubes, capers & lemon pieces
  3. Pull your butter & mushrooms when the butter starts to brown and spoon it over the scallop salad.


  1. I love Jacques Pepin. He's got credibility as well as a beautiful temperament in the kitchen. "Fast Food My Way" is one of my favorite cooking shows.

    That salad looks so tasty. What kind of mushrooms did you use?

    Thanks for adding us as a friend on Foodbuzz. We welcome you to come visit our site!

  2. The thing I love about Jacques is that he's a teacher; he's not so after the buck that he's won't share his recipes online. He's a god among chefs. Read all his books and you realize that he's no imposter. He cooks from the heart and from the mind of an artist.

  3. As a trained food service professional (chef or cook depending on the restaurant) Jacques is by far my favorite chef. I trained "French" but I am not in this mans league. He's fast, efficient and he economizes time and ingredients. I recently saw an Emeril show that JP co-hosted and Jacques made Emeril look like a pot washer, totally kicked him in his over exposed ass!