Home - is where I want to be / But I guess I'm already there /I come home -
she lifted up her wings /
Guess that this must be the place...
- Talking Heads, "Naive Melody"

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Barefoot Contessa Seafood Gratin

For this week's "cook from a book" goal recipe, I turned once again to the Barefoot Contessa and somehow landed on this as something that would be different from my usual cooking, and somewhat fun to make. I was planning to work from home that day, so I would have the extra time to fuss in the kitchen.

I suspect that for most people, this is one of those "use every pot you own" type recipes--I certainly used most of mine, along with an army of prep bowls. The result, however, was probably the best thing I have made in months. This was, to my mind, restaurant-quality stuff. Maybe not the French Laundry, but a decent restaurant.

I made a fair number of changes. I don't like shrimp, and for only two of us 1 1/2 lbs would have been way too much anyway, so I used bay scallops and cod.  I wasn't about to go looking for fresh tarragon in January; instead, I sprinkled some herbes de Provence among the bread crumbs. And I don't own any gratin dishes, so I used a relatively small baking dish.

It was amazing. I took a picture, which I will add to this post at some point.

The only other thing I want to mention is that this is really, really, really rich. So if you're making it for a dinner party or something, make sure dessert is on the light side!

1 cup seafood stock or clam juice
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons good white wine, such as Chablis, divided
3 tablespoons tomato puree
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
8 ounces raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cut in half crosswise
8 ounces raw halibut, cut into1-inch chunks
8 ounces cooked lobster meat, cut into 1-inch chunks
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 cups julienned leeks, white and light green parts (2 large)
1 1/2 cups julienned carrots (3 carrots)
1 cup panko (Japanese dried bread crumbs)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 cloves)

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place 4 individual gratin dishes on sheet pans. (If recipe is doubled serve it in a 14 by 9 1/4-inch oval gratin dish.)
  2. Combine the stock, cream, 1/2 cup of the wine, the tomato puree, and saffron in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and add the shrimp. After 3 minutes, use a slotted spoon to remove the shrimp to a bowl. Add the halibut to the stock for 3 minutes, until just cooked through, and remove to the same bowl. Add the cooked lobster to the bowl.
  3. Continue to cook the sauce until reduced by half, about 12 minutes. Mash 1 tablespoon of the butter together with the flour. Whisk the butter mixture into the sauce along with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saute pan. Add the leeks and carrots and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of wine, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until tender. Set aside.
  5. Combine the panko, Parmesan, parsley, tarragon, and garlic. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and mix it into the crumbs until they're moistened.
  6. Divide the seafood among the 4 gratin dishes. Strew the vegetables on top of each dish. Pour the sauce equally over the seafood and vegetables and spoon the crumbs evenly on top. Bake for 20 minutes, until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbly. Serve hot.

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