What’s Cookin’ – Scallop Casserole

When I lived in New England in the early 1980s, I learned to love seafood.  Having been born and raised in the Midwest, I was never exposed to seafood growing up, but since I was a really picky eater, I’m not sure I would have appreciated it then anyway.

One of the recipes that I have in my box came from my time spent living in Boston back then and was one that was made frequently by a friend’s mother.  She made this simple little casserole to serve as a side dish.  I made it often when I lived there and had access to bay scallops, but after my return to the Midwest, it sat in my box unused.  That’s because bay scallops are not readily available this far from the ocean.  That is until the last few years.

Bay scallops and sea scallops are closely related members of the same shellfish family.  The most obvious difference is their size.  Bay scallops are tiny, and sea scallops are large.  Both are really good to eat, but bay scallops tend to be more tender and sweet to eat.  Both will suffer from overcooking and will be hard and tough if cooked too long.

Bay scallops from the U.S. are in short supply, but, at least here in the Midwest, you can buy 100% natural bay scallops that are harvested in China.  When I saw these in the grocery store, I immediately thought of this little recipe and decided to make it to share with you.

Scallop Casserole ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 375° F.  Butter a 1-quart glass casserole dish.  I suppose you could use cooking spray, but this is a buttery, creamy little casserole so why not go by the original recipe and use a little extra butter to coat your dish?

Toss the bread crumbs with 3 TB of the melted butter and set aside.  Toss the saltine cracker crumbs with the remaining 5 TB of melted butter and set aside.

When I lived in New England, way back in the early 1980s, you could buy fresh bay scallops at the seafood counter of the local grocery store.  This is where I learned to love seafood.  Coming from the Midwest, I was in awe of the strange, new, and unique foods that I was now able to buy.

Drain, rinse, and dry the scallops.  Salt and pepper to taste.

The original recipe says to salt and pepper the top, but I think it is better to salt and pepper the scallops so that’s what I do. 

Layer the scallops and buttered bread crumbs in the buttered casserole dish.

Butter.  Butter.  Butter.

Layer the buttered saltine cracker crumbs on top.

And more butter.

Pour the cream on top.

Ah, cream.

Bake in a preheated oven for 40 minutes.

Do not overbake.  Overcooked scallops are tough and chewy.  Perfectly cooked scallops are tender and sweet.  Tough and chewy is bad.  Tender and sweet is good.

Scallop Casserole ready to eat.

Creamy, mild, and tender with a little crunch of cracker crumbs on top.  Tastes a little like New England to me.

Now, my nephew and his girlfriend are not big “seafood” fans (except sushi, you can’t be cool unless you like sushi).  But, because they like my cooking, they agreed to give this dish a chance.  There were no leftovers.


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