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Baked scallops, no white wine

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I now find myself in charge of the first Thanksgiving for my bf's sister and husband.

My original menu was main course lobster and starter coquille st jacques for my boyfriend and I, but his sister is 2 months pregnant.

I like the idea of poaching the scallops because I bought the frozen ones as I'm not too familiar with cooking scallops and did not want to buy fresh. But now I'm not sure what to poach them in since I don't want to risk alcohol with her.

I was going to sauté shallot and mushrooms in butter, followed by white wine and then poach the scallops. Then remove them, reduce with cream. What can I substitute for the white wine? I think broth would be too strong, could I dilute it? I suppose even some water would be fine since there is cream and the whole thing will be broiled with some cheese anyway.

I thought about setting aside different sauce for her but I don't want to risk giving her the wrong one either.

I looked up other scallop gratin dishes but they did not involve poaching and I'm worried about my scallops leaking too much water if I don't poach them first.

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  1. You could try white grape juice, or maybe even some clam juice. Personally I would just go with chicken stock.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Atomic76

      White grape juice is way sweeter than wine. Clam broth is the answer.

      1. re: magiesmom

        Yes, or even mushroom broth.

        1. re: chefathome

          That's interesting.
          I have a freezer full of leek broth so I often end up using that.

          1. re: magiesmom

            mmmmmm...I love anything with leeks! I often use mushroom broth which I make from dried mushrooms, of course, which I have reconstituted with Sherry, Port, red wine, or even just water and herbs for a nice light broth.

            1. re: magiesmom

              Ok so I'm guessing mushroom broth is just mushrooms and leek broth is all leeks?

              When I make vegetable broth I sauté or sometimes roast 6-10 types of vegetables along with some herbs which I think would be too strong for the scallops.

              Leek broth sounds good since I'll be sautéing mushrooms already.

              1. re: youareabunny

                We grow tons of leeks and when we harvest them we make stock out of the green parts and whatever other veggies are around. I never put herbs in stock so it is versatile.

      2. I'd ask her, but you're talking essentially about a white wine deglaze -- you're talking a *really* small amount of alcohol in the dish -- not much to begin with, and a goodly amount of cooking to burn off most (granted, not all...) of the alcohol in the wine.

        She and her OB may be cool with such a small amount.

        3 Replies
        1. re: sunshine842

          Yeh I thought of asking her but this is a so far successful pregnancy after years of several unsuccessful ones... and she tends to be very agreeable with me. So I'd just rather not. Also I've read conflicting this and that re: alcohol evaporation so I just don't know...

          1. re: youareabunny

            Why don't you just use non-alcoholic wine for the deglazing? Don't plan on drinking it, but it will add the flavor that you want.

            1. re: 512window

              nonononononononononoooooooo

              Non-alcoholic wine is vile, repulsive stuff, and will make your dish vile and repulsive.

              If you've made up your mind, court bouillon or vegetable stock.

        2. Court bouillon with some lemon juice instead of wine.

          1. No one has mentioned the issue of "dry" scallops vs The Other, plumped by chemicals and water. If you buy dry scallops, you shouldn't need to poach them.

            4 Replies
            1. re: sr44

              the op is buying frozen scallops. those are never dry.

              what about a light scallop soup as a starter? with lots of lemon a fresh herb, like chervil or tarragon? this way you don't need to be cooking the scallops twice and the moisture weeping isn't an issue.

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                That is a good idea. I'm going cook with a few of them and see how they turn out.

                My skill with seafood is a limited. I'm really only comfortable with cooking shrimp or baking frozen fillets. I don't have much time to have too many rest runs so if this doesn't work then soup is on :)

                I'm paranoid of shelling out for fresh ones and then ruining them. So somehow I feel less pressure in case I ruin frozen ones. Of course logic tells me... maybe there is less error with the fresh, dry ones. Then on top of that I am in France and would have to talk to the fishmonger through my boyfriend... For me it's complicated lol.

                1. re: youareabunny

                  It is much more difficult to make wet ones well as they just simply are not as good.

                  1. re: magiesmom

                    on display at the fishmonger, the "wet" scallops will be sitting in a pool of milky liquid. thus, they are easy to spot, even with a language barrier, but they will be much less spendy than dry.

                    a soup provides a greater window for succeeding with frozen scallops and is a very traditional first course in french homes. you can also make the base ahead of time and then just warm it for serving, adding the scallops at the last minute to poach. zero worry of overcooking.

                    op: work within your comfort zone, especially for a special occasion. you don't want to be stressed. enjoy your guests and the joy your b/f's sister must be feeling.

                    good luck!

            2. One of my favorite scallop preps is seared with miso, lime, and butter. I could see poaching in a lime accented miso broth.