Who better to turn to than Alain Ducasse for a lesson in classic French bistro food? His book, Classic French Comfort Food, is an homage to three of the Parisian bistros he manages – Allard, Aux Lyonnais and Benoît. Each one an institution in its own right, they have been serving up authentic dishes to Parisians and visitors for over a century.
A starter that never fails to impress, scallops can always be counted on to bring the wow-factor. Made with capers, lemon peel and butter, a sauce à la Grenobloise is the definitive partner to myriad fish dishes. Master its formula and you’ll never look back.
Read on for an Alain Ducasse recipe that will delight everyone’s tastebuds.
20 king scallops
Scallop frills (side muscles)
1 tablespoon olive oil
20 g – 2.47 ounces (5 tablespoons) butter
1 clove pink garlic
1 bouquet garni
200 ml – 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon dry white wine
200ml – 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon white chicken stock
1/4 bunch flat-leaf parsley
100 g – 3.53 ounces (3 1/3 cups) sandwich bread cubes (about 3 1/2 slices)
1 tablespoon olive oil
30 g – 1.06 ounces (1/4 cup) small capers
50 g – 1.76 ounces (3 ½ tablespoons) butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
PREP THE SCALLOPS
One day ahead, carefully open the scallops and remove their frills (side muscles). Discard the intestines. Ensure that the scallops are well attached to their shells. Rinse with water and drain on a rack. Reserve in the refrigerator for 12 hours. Purge their frills of impurities by soaking in water for 12 hours at room temperature until they turn translucent.
MAKE THE SAUCE
The day of serving, coarsely slice the unpeeled shallot. Sauté the scallop frills to release their residual water and drain in a strainer (sieve). Heat the olive oil and 20g – 0.71 ounce (1 1/2 tablespoons) butter in a Dutch oven (cast-iron casserole). Sear the frills to color well, then add the shallot, unpeeled garlic, and bouquet garni. Deglaze with the wine and reduce by one-third. Add the chicken stock and reduce by half. Pour the contents of the pan into a strainer and filter the sauce through a conical strainer into a bowl. Set aside.
MAKE THE GRENOBLOISE CONDIMENT
Use a vegetable peeler* to remove the zest from the lemons, then julienne the zest. Supreme the lemons over a bowl to collect the juice. Cut the sections into a small dice. Blanch the julienned zest two times in boiling water, then confit in the lemon juice for 10 minutes over low heat and set aside. Mince the parsley leaves.
Toast the bread cubes in a skillet or frying pan with olive oil and drain the capers.
Preheat the oven to 180°C – 350°F (gas mark 4). Melt the butter in a saucepan and make a beurre noisette*. Set aside. Season the scallops with a little olive oil, salt, and a turn of the pepper mill, and roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Add the beurre noisette to the sauce and beat, then add a dash of lemon juice. Arrange a little grenobloise condiment over each scallop, cover with sauce, add some croutons, and serve.
Wine suggestion: a white Loire Valley wine, such as Pouilly-Fumé.
Bistro: Classic French Comfort Food
Written by Alain Ducasse
Published by Rizzoli
Photography by Pierre Monetta
Find more Ducasse recipes in the May/June 2020 edition of My French Country Home.