Make-ahead scallops au gratin

Classic dish in an easy-to-make format!

I’ve always loved this dish, also known as Coquilles St. Jacques. For years, it was my go-to ‘must impress these people’ meal. These days, I prefer this version which can be made the day before a party. I also like that it’s easy to make a gluten-free variation, if needed. Bay scallops are probably my favourite seafood, not only because they are smaller, delicate and sweet but also because they are so versatile and easy to prepare. While you may have seen old-school pictures of this dish served in large scallop shells, I think shallow, oven-safe ceramic gratin dishes are far more practical. I like to serve this dish with a green salad, crusty bread and chilled Sauvignon Blanc.


  • 1.5 pounds (675 grams) bay scallops, or quartered sea scallops, thawed if frozen
  • 5 tablespoons (75 mL) butter, divided
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) all-purpose flour (or gluten-free flour)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) chicken stock
  • 2/3 cup (180 mL) heavy (35%) cream
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) fresh thyme leaves or ½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) dried thyme
  • pinch cayenne
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2/3 cup (180mL) diced shallots
  • 12 medium-sized mushroom caps, halved and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) vermouth or white wine
  • 1 cup (250 mL) Panko (Japanese bread crumbs) or gluten-free bread crumbs
  • 4 tablespoons (60 mL) minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 ounces (110 grams) Emmental or Gruyère cheese, grated
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) extra-virgin olive oil


  • Pat scallops dry with a paper towel and refrigerate until needed.
  • Set a saucepan over medium heat, and melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in it. Add the flour, and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
  • Slowly add the chicken stock, whisking constantly, to create a smooth, thick sauce. Add the cream, thyme and cayenne. Heat the sauce, whisking often, until it is just about boiling then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
  • Put 2 tablespoons butter in a large frying or sauté pan. Place over medium heat. Melt butter then add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook one minute longer. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often, for about 6 – 7 minutes until mushrooms are beginning to turn brown.
  • Add the vermouth, brandy or Cognac to the pan and cook for 1 minute. Add the mushroom mixture to the cream sauce; taste and add salt and pepper to your liking. Put in the fridge to cool; stirring occasionally, for 15 – 20 minutes.
  • Combine bread crumbs, parsley and grated cheese in a medium bowl. Drizzle with olive oil; stir.
  • Use remaining butter to grease 4 medium gratin dishes (approximately 1.5 cups/375 mL each). Divide the scallops among the dishes; top with the cream sauce, dividing evenly. Finish each dish with bread crumb mixture. Place on a baking sheet, cover dishes with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
  • Just before serving time, preheat oven to 400F. Remove plastic wrap from gratin dishes and place in hot oven for 18 – 22 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned and bubbling.

Serves 4.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

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