It’s a strange thing that sometimes, when you first glance through a new cookbook, one particular recipe catches your eye. You make it, and like it, then never make any other recipe out of that book – you just keep making that first recipe over and over again. Or maybe that’s just me.
This recipe is out of a library book, Jacques Pépin’s Fast Food My Way, which I checked out when I was feeling particularly crunched for time and wanted some quick dinner ideas. I was thrilled when I discovered this gratin, which is quick to assemble, even quicker to bake, and doesn’t taste quite like anything else I make. And it’s very easy to make just enough for two people – no messy leftovers. The shrimp both bake and steam in the moisture from the wine and vegetables and are beautifully crisp and tender, with the nice crunchy breadcrumb topping over all.
Because of the basic perfection of the original recipe, I’ve not played around with it at all, except to get rather casual about quantities – except that this time I decided to gather a few leaves of fresh rainbow chard from my tiny backyard plot, shred them and scatter them into the gratin. It was good, and added some nice color, but it also made things a bit wetter than they would be otherwise. Perhaps if I’d blanched and drained the chard first – but then it wouldn’t be nearly as quick. So I’d say greens are optional.
And maybe someday I’ll try a few other recipes out of that book!
adapted from Fast Food My Way by Jacques Pépin. Serves two.
- 1/2 pound fresh prawns, peeled
- handful of button mushrooms, chopped relatively fine
- 1 bunch of scallions, chopped
- a clove or two of chopped garlic
- salt and pepper
- a couple tablespoons of butter, melted
- 1/4 cup white wine
- a few handfuls of breadcrumbs
Combine the mushrooms, scallions, garlic, salt, pepper and melted butter in a shallow gratin pan and mix thoroughly. Nestle the prawns down into the vegetables, top with breadcrumbs (you can oil them first if you want) and pour the wine over. Pop into a 425° oven and wait 10 minutes. When the prawns are just pink all the way through, take the pan out of the oven and breathe in the hot buttery scented steam. Eat with crusty bread, a salad, or just a glass of white wine.