A Catholic Home - Scallops honor St. James on his feast day

Photo: Rachel Bauer Photo: Rachel Bauer

Serve Coquilles St. Jacques and contemplate the patron saint of our archdiocese

Tastes change. Just look at my recipe for Coquilles St. Jacques. This rich and creamy dish has given way to more healthful eating in our household. But once in a while, the scallops with mushrooms and Gruyère cheese are worth the splurge in calories, especially when I think about St. James the Greater and his feast day on July 25.

James is a constant for the faithful in the Archdiocese of Seattle. Our patron connects us to the Twelve Apostles of Christ, and to 1838, when the Catholic Church took its place on a rugged frontier at Fort Vancouver with the arrival of missionary Fathers Francis Norbert Blanchet and Modeste Demers.

James Douglas of the Hudson’s Bay Company was the first to welcome the priests and their small, weary group. His kindness was rewarded: Our first cathedral for the Diocese of Nesqually — and later the Archdiocese of Seattle — was named after James Douglas’ patron saint.

St. James’ traditional association with the scallop shell is based on a handful of legends — for instance, that he once rescued from the sea a knight who was covered in scallops. Today, if you look closely in the cathedral in Seattle or the Proto-Cathedral of St. James the Greater in Vancouver, you’ll find scallop shells affixed to doors and stained-glass windows, reminding us that we are under the protection of St. James, who was beheaded in A.D. 44, the first of the apostles to suffer martyrdom.

So on St. James’ special day, consider honoring him by cooking this classic French recipe for Coquilles St. Jacques that I found at a Portland fish market many years ago.   

Coquilles St. Jacques

1 pound fresh scallops
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter for sautéing mushrooms

For the court bouillon:
1/2 cup each water and dry white wine
2 sprigs parsley
1 small white onion studded with 4 cloves
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash white pepper

For the sauce:
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup drained bouillon
3/4 cup half-and-half
2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
grated Gruyère cheese

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13 baking dish.

Make court bouillon and cook 5 minutes. Add scallops and simmer 4 minutes. Do not boil. Strain bouillon and place the scallops in the baking dish. Mix in 1 tablespoon of butter.

In a saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons butter and then add 3 tablespoons flour. Cook 1 minute, then slowly add the court bouillon and half-and-half. Cook, stirring until thick and smooth. Beat the egg yolks and add a little sauce to them, then add the egg mixture to the sauce and cook 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice. Pour over the scallops and mix.

Sauté mushrooms in 2 tablespoons butter. Do not overcook. Add them to the baking dish and mix lightly.

Top with the grated cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake 10 minutes.

 Northwest Catholic - July/August 2015

Janet Cleaveland

Janet Cleaveland is a member of the Proto-Cathedral of St. James the Greater in Vancouver.


Website: blogs.columbian.com/small-plates/author/jcleaveland/