I’ve been making this delicious seafood gratin for a quite a while. It’s a great recipe to have in your repertoire for when you’re entertaining and want a dish that can be fully prepared in advance but I also cook it regularly just for us. The original recipe calls for lobster as part of the seafood mix but I do sometimes leave it out when I’m feeling parsimonious and use scallops instead which I think work just as well. One thing that you can’t replace or miss out is the saffron which adds that wonderful aroma and richness that you find in great seafood bisques from the South of France. I like to serve these in individual gratin dishes which makes for lovely presentation and ensures everyone gets their own greedy amount of crunchy breadcrumb topping.
Ingredients Serves 4 Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten
1 cup seafood stock or clam juice – I sometimes use chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup cream
½ a cup plus 3 tablespoons white wine – I use chardonnay
3 tablespoons tomato paste
½ teaspoon saffron threads
250g raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cut in half crosswise
250g raw firm fleshed white fish, cut into1-inch chunks – I use snapper or blue eye cod
250g cooked lobster meat, cut into 1-inch chunks – you can replace with raw scallops
100g unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Freshly ground black pepper
2 leeks, white and light green parts finely julienned into matchstick size pieces
3 carrots finely julienned into matchstick size pieces
1 cup panko (Japanese dried bread crumbs)
⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Preheat the oven to 180C. Place 4 individual gratin dishes on a sheet pan. Combine the stock, cream, ½ cup of the wine, the tomato paste, 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 fish to the stock for 3 minutes, until just cooked through, and remove to the same bowl. Add the cooked lobster to the bowl. If you are using scallops instead of lobster cook it in the stock mixture for 3 minutes also and remove.
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.
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.
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. 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.