Living YBG sat down with MKT’s Executive Chef Cyrille Pannier to talk holiday dining and traditions. Chef Pannier also shared his Coquille St Jacques recipe which you can try at home. Enjoy!

YBG: What is your favorite holiday tradition?

CP: We used to give away gift baskets filled with home-made jam, cookies, and preserves to our neighbors. As an adult, I keep this tradition alive, as well as donating food to less fortunate people who can’t afford to buy food and celebrate the holidays. 

YBG: What is your favorite holiday meal?

CP: Growing up we used to spend Christmas at my Aunt and Uncle’s place in Normandy where we had an abundance of fresh seafood. We always began Christmas Eve dinner with a massive “plateau de fruits de mer” or seafood platter that included blue lobster, rock crabs, langoustines, shrimps, whelks, and of course loads and loads of oysters. In France, you must have champagne to celebrate the holidays! It’s the chosen drink for all special occasions. And although I prefer savory over sweet, my favorite holiday dessert was and still is the “Bûche de Noël” or Christmas Yule Log. It’s a French tradition that dates back to the 19th century. The cake is shaped like a yule log and covered in edible meringue shaped mushrooms and dusted with gold and silver flakes. 

YBG: What dish is a crowd-pleaser at a holiday party?

CP: Holidays are celebrated with family and close friends, so I recommend bringing a dish that represents your family traditions. That might be your grandmother’s green bean casserole or your aunt’s pecan pie. As for me, I would bring Coquille St Jacques. It’s a savory seafood dish that reminds me of the holidays in France.  

Coquille St Jacques

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup diced shallots
  • 1/2 pound white button mushrooms, sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 pound sea scallops, clean and out of the shell
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 4 large oven-safe scallop shells
  • 1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 1 pinch paprika
  • 8 fresh tarragon leaves

Instructions

  1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; sauté shallots in the hot butter until translucent, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir mushrooms, salt, and black pepper into shallots. Turn heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, until mushrooms are golden brown, about 10 minutes.
  2. Pour white wine over mushroom mixture, dissolving any browned bits of food on bottom of skillet into wine; bring to a simmer. Gently place scallops into wine and poach in the mushroom mixture until barely firm, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer scallops to a bowl. Strain mushroom mixture into another bowl, reserving mushrooms and cooking liquid separately. Return strained liquid to skillet, pour in any accumulated juices from scallops, and stir in cream. Bring to a boil and cook until cream sauce is reduced by about half, about 10 minutes. Stir often. Turn off heat and let mixture cool for 1 minute.
  3. Quickly whisk egg yolk into cream sauce until combined. Transfer skillet to a work surface (such as a heatproof countertop or cutting board) and stir cayenne pepper, 2 teaspoons tarragon, and lemon zest into sauce.
  4. Divide mushroom mixture into scallop shells, spreading mushrooms out to cover bottoms of shells; place about 3 scallops onto each portion. Spoon cream sauce over scallops to coat; let sauce drizzle down into mushrooms. Sprinkle lightly with Gruyere cheese and paprika or cayenne.
  5. Turn oven’s broiler to high. Slightly crinkle a large sheet of aluminum foil and place onto a baking sheet. Place filled shells onto foil and press lightly to help them stay level.
  6. Broil about 10 inches from the heat source until sauce is bubbling and cheese is lightly browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to serving plates lined with napkins to prevent shells from tipping.
  7. Serve with champagne!