Paris is wonderful for many reasons, but fresh scallops or Saint Jacques, have to be one of my top ten. It's difficult to get fresh scallops in California and I normally opt for the frozen bag type, but here in glorious Paris every Poissonerrie has scallops overflowing – in the shell, out of the shell, with the pink corail (eggs) or without. Ah, the good life!
I decided to do a little experiment with big globe artichokes that are flooding the Parisian farmer's markets right now and scallops. Oh yeah, and some bacon too! Both artichokes and scallops can take the smokiness of bacon. In fact, I think it really makes the dish. If you're vegetarian try substituting some thinly sliced black truffles (don't drop the plate – ha ha).
The only tricky part to this recipe is turning the artichoke. Turning is a French thing – it's the process of chiseling a vegetable into a sculpted piece of art. In this case it means to cut off all the leaves and cut around the artichoke leaving a whole heart. We wouldn't dare throw away all those leaves in Northern Cal, home to hundreds of artichoke farms – quel dommage!
Then you cook the heart and scoop out the choke. It's a bit of muscle work, but you're left with a cool little cup for the scallops and it makes for great presentation. Everything else in my recipe is really easy.
Recipe to follow....
Saint Jacque's Heart
5 Big fleshy scallops / person
Big Artichokes, 1/ person
Thinly sliced bacon chopped, 1 slice / person
1/2 Cup chicken stock
Splash of white wine (optional)
2 Tablespoon butter
Chopped chives for decoration
One lemon (to citroner artichoke)
1 Tablespoon flour
1. Turn artichokes. Break off stem of artichoke so that it has a flat bottom. Snap off three rows of outer leaves until you can see where the heart ends and the leaves begin. With a big serrated knife saw through leaves leaving only the heart at the bottom. About 2/3's the way down artichoke. Rub artichoke with lemon to keep it from turning brown. With a smaller knife cut around heart to remove any leaves and give it a circular shape.
2. Put turned artichokes into a pot of cold water with enough water to cover. Add 1 Tablespoon of flour (this will keep them from turning brown too) and any leftover lemon juice. Cook on medium heat until a knife easily slides through the artichoke heart. About 15- 20 minutes.
3. Remove artichoke hearts when cooked and let cool until you can handle them. With a spoon scoop out fuzzy choke and throw away. Reserve heart for later.
4. In a non stick skillet fry bacon on medium heat until crispy but not burned. Remove and let drain on a paper towel. Keep one tablespoon of bacon drippings to cook scallops in.
5. Add scallops to nonstick pan and cook in bacon drippings until just done. Add splash of white wine if desired midway through cooking process. The center should feel warm, but look raw and still opaque. About 4 minutes if fresh. Remove and keep warm.
6. Add chicken stock to pan and turn up heat to medium high. Reduce by half and DO NOT add salt. The bacon and scallops are salty enough.
7. Turn heat down to medium and add 2 T of butter and shake pan to incorporate. Do not boil sauce with butter or the fats will seperate. Sauce should look glossy and have the consistency of olive oil.
8. Take off heat and stir in chives.
9. Place artichoke hearts on dishes and fill with scallops and bacon. Spoon a little sauce over scallops and around the plate. Voila!
Note: If artichoke hearts get too cold just reheat in a nonstick pan with a little butter or some olive oil on medium heat. This will give them a little shine and flavor too.