Bay Scallop Gratin

August 27, 2010 · 12 comments · Print This Post

in Dinner, Fish

Have we discussed “sexy ugly” before? If you know where that term comes from (without googling it) than we are probably destined to be best friends. But since I don’t want you to leave my blog to go on a scavenger hunt I’ll simply tell you. Sexy ugly was originally coined in the fabulous movie Kissing Jessica Stein. This film is one of my top ten favorite movies of all time.  If you haven’t seen it before you have to rent it immediately. For those of you not in the know it stars Jennifer Westfeldt, who happens to be Mrs. Jon Hamm in real life.  As this is one of my favorite movies I also happen to have a slight obsession with Westfeldt. She may or may not have a TiVo wishlist that automatically records everything she happens to appear in… but I digress.

The Urban Dictionary describes sexy ugly as:

Someone who is not conventionally good-looking (or any kind of good-looking in some cases), but possesses an appealing personality, style, or talent, and is thus considered sexually attractive by many.

Case in point — this Bay Scallop dish. I originally made these scallops last winter and the images have sat in Aperture for months. I’ve opened them up and gazed at them with ill concealed contempt on several occasions and then promptly closed the folder in search of another more “conventionally sexy” dish to post about.

But let’s take a closer look at these scallops. They would have been immensely prettier had I actually dished them out into individual gratin dishes before baking them, but instead I decided to take the all-purpose approach and cook them in one large white casserole dish. Did this effect the taste of the scallops? Absolutely not. They’re dripping in butter, wine, and prosciutto which are pretty much the most appealing ingredients in the world. So while this dinner wasn’t a Brad Pitt it was most definitely an Adrien Brody and let’s not forget which of them has an Oscar. I rest my case.

Bay Scallop Gratin
Six Servings — Originally published by Ina Garten

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 large garlic cloves, minced
2 medium shallots, minced
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto di Parma, minced
4 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons Pernod
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 cup panko
6 tablespoons dry white wine
2 pound fresh bay scallops
Lemon, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place 6 (6-inch round) gratin dishes on a sheet pan.

To make the topping, place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you can also use a hand mixer). With the mixer on low speed, add the garlic, shallot, prosciutto, parsley, lemon juice, Pernod, salt, and pepper and mix until combined. With the mixer still on low, add the olive oil slowly as though making mayonnaise, until combined. Fold the panko in with a rubber spatula and set aside.

Preheat the broiler, if it’s separate from your oven.

Place 1 tablespoon of the wine in the bottom of each gratin dish. With a small sharp knife, remove the white muscle and membrane from the side of each scallop and discard. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels and distribute them among the 3 dishes. Spoon the garlic butter evenly over the top of the scallops. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the topping is golden and sizzling and the scallops are barely done. If you want the top crustier, place the dishes under the broiler for 2 minutes, until browned. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkling of chopped parsley and serve immediately with crusty French bread.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 [email protected] August 27, 2010 at 9:34 am

This reminds of Ina’s seafood gratin that I made at Christmas. So delicious yet I couldn’t get a decent picture.
Oh and Keith Richards – sexy ugly for sure.


2 Jo August 27, 2010 at 9:38 am

OK, that doesn’t even look remotely ugly — it looks angelic! Can’t wait to try the recipe — thanks for sharing 🙂


3 Tabby August 27, 2010 at 1:31 pm

I do not like seafood but that sure looks good. The first person that jumped into mind when you described what sexy ugly was Ellen Barken…maybe its just me?


4 Sues August 27, 2010 at 3:12 pm

These are totally sexy ugly!!! And they’re also delicious-looking, which is most important 🙂 I wouldn’t be at all disappointed if someone served this to me in a restaurant!


5 Kelly August 27, 2010 at 4:27 pm

I hate when that happens, when yo uhave such a good dish that just begs to be recreated but that looks ugly in dishes. I actually don’t think that counts though. It’s beautiful in my eyes. And how do you like apeture? I wanted it for the longest time but ended up getting light room instead since i already use photoshop and could get an educational discount. I’m always curious what people have and what they like. I’ve been trying to get better at taking photos but I find having good software helps too. And what was the real estate situation. I remember you having a post on moving and haven’t heard about it since!

As a sidenote, , I’m a finalist in another recipe contest! I’d love your support if you have a moment. To vote, see my video here: and then click that you “like it.” (Note that you will have to log into your youtube account to vote and if you don’t have one, you’ll have to create one. I promise it only takes a minute!…) If nothing else you …get to see me look awkward on video. :- And thanks for all the support so far. Much appreciated.


6 Hänni August 27, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Your description of this dish as the Adrian Brody of gratins was too cute. And FWIW, I don’t think it’s ugly at all. The yellows and greens are lovely.


7 A Plum By Any Other Name August 27, 2010 at 5:28 pm

What does it say about me if I find this dish sexy-sexy?

I love Ina, she can do no wrong. And the pernod is signature Barefoot Contessa. Thanks for posting this recipe!


8 Eva August 28, 2010 at 10:33 am

Actually, sexy-ugly or ugly-pretty is a real French way to describe someone, especially women. And it’s meant as a compliment. What makes you different in a non-conventional way is what is so appealing.

Loved that you described a dish like this!


9 joan August 28, 2010 at 11:53 am

I love Adrien Brody! 🙂 Thanks again for your Surprise Packages. Everyone loved them. I have a post with a link to you. 🙂


10 Nick (Macheesmo) August 28, 2010 at 7:07 pm

I’ve always wanted a good recipe for bay scallops.

This is totally sexy ugly.


11 Debbie August 31, 2010 at 2:03 pm

I make this recipe with sea scallops too and I serve it with a side of linquine. Tastes great every time.


12 Jenna September 3, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Oh my gosh–I love this recipe! A friend let me borrow the cookbook and I made this immediately. So delicious! Great pix, by the way. Glad I stumbled across your blog.


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