Julia Child's Classic Recipe for Coquilles St. Jacques À La Provençale, or Scallops Gratinéed with Wine, Garlic, and Herbs.

This week’s special recipe for the JC100 bloggers is Coquilles St. Jacques À La Provençale, or Scallops Gratinéed with Wine, Garlic, and Herbs. Lucky for me my fish monger was open on the civic holiday yesterday (BC Day). Even luckier that he had a stash of scallop shells he was willing to part with…gratis!

Julia Child’s Recipe for Coquilles St. Jacques À La Provençale

scallop shells

The JC100: Coquilles St. Jacques À La Provençale
Author: Julia Child
Serves: 6
Excerpted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. Copyright © 1961 by Alfred A. Knopf. Reprinted with permission from the publisher Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.
  • 1/3 cup minced yellow onions
  • 1 Tb butter
  • 1 1/2 Tb minced shallot or green onions
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 lbs washed scallops
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup sifted flour in a dish
  • 2 Tb butter
  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • A 10-inch enameled skillet
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine, or 1/2 cup dry white vermouth and 3 Tb water
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • 1/8 tsp thyme
  • 6 buttered scallop shells, or porcelain or pyrex shells, of 1/3 cup capacity
  • 1/4 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 2 Tb butter cut into 6 pieces
  1. Cook the onions slowly in butter in a small saucepan for 5 minutes or so, until tender and translucent but not browned. Stir in the shallots or onions, and garlic, and cook slowly for 1 minute more. Set aside.
  2. Dry the scallops and cut into slices 1/4 inch thick. Just before cooking, sprinkle with salt and pepper, roll in flour, and shake off excess flour.
  3. Sauté the scallops quickly in very hot butter and oil for 2 minutes to brown them lightly.
  4. Pour the wine, or the vermouth and water, into the skillet with the scallops. Add the herbs and the cooked onion mixture. Cover the skillet and simmer for 5 minutes. Then uncover, and if necessary boil down the sauce rapidly for a minute until it is lightly thickened. Correct seasoning, and discard bay leaf.
  5. Spoon the scallops and sauce into the shells. Sprinkle with cheese and dot with butter. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to gratiné.
  6. Just before serving, run under a moderately hot broiler for 3 to 4 minutes to heat through, and to brown the cheese lightly.

This good recipe may be prepared in advance and grantinéed just before serving. The proportions given are sufficient for a first course. Double them for a main course. Serve a chilled rosé, or a dry white such as côtes de Provence.

To prolong the shelf life of a scallop producers often immerse their catch in a preserving agent. While the agent (tripolphosphate) does help to keep up freshness, it also causes the scallop to absorb water which, in turn, affects its overall weight. To avoid paying for all that extra liquid, steer clear of any scallops that look like they’ve already been blanched. Instead, select ones that are beige to blush in colour and have a delicate, sweet aroma.

I used Catarina Bay scallops, a sustainable option from Mexico. I could tell by their rosy colour that they were untreated and, because they’re so tiny, I wouldn’t need to spend time cutting them into ¼ inch thick slices. Bonus!

Uncooked scallops

With a fancy French name like Coquilles St. Jacques À La Provençale, you might expect this recipe to be complicated and fussy but it really wasn’t. It took me less than 20 minutes start to finish. (Okay – 25 if you count scrubbing the scallop shells.)

scallops in the pan

I was a little reluctant to let the scallops simmer for 5 minutes and then boil rapidly for another one, afraid that I might end up eating a scallop shell full of rubber erasers, but they were surprisingly tender, sweet, and creamy. I should know by now to trust Julia.

Coquilles St JacquesI used Parmigiano Reggiano instead of Swiss since that’s what I had on hand.

Julia Child's Recipe for Coquilles St. Jacques

To serve, I filled shallow bowls with coarse salt then set the scallop shells on top.

Julie Child's Recipe for Coquilles St. Jacques

Coquilles St. Jacques

I’ve poured over the list of Julia’s 100 most beloved recipes (compiled by a panel of culinary luminaries) this morning trying to guess what the last of the JC100 recipes will be. I think Julia’s perfect Génoise or Gâteau Paris would make a very fitting finale. Every birthday party needs a cake!


Try these other Julia Child recipes too!