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Seafood cassoulet

Danielle Matar/The Globe and Mail

Several years ago, I travelled through the north of Scotland up to Orkney, where the simply cooked fish and seafood were a dream. The dish featured here was inspired by a mollusc side I had in the Creel Restaurant. Located in the tiny village of St. Margaret's Hope, it is run by a husband-and-wife team that serves some really interesting food. The farm-to-table approach that so many good Scottish restaurants espouse is in evidence there; so is the French influence that worked its way into the country's cuisine through Mary Queen of Scots, who grew up at the French courts.

Their take on seafood cassoulet, which I reinvented here as a main course, includes scallops, a great delicacy fished from the Scottish lochs. Serve with a green salad made with spicy lettuce and a lemon trifle for dessert.

Servings: 4

Ready time: 1 hour

Bread crumbs

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Stock

½ cup white wine

1 cup fish stock or water

½ teaspoon dried thyme

1 bay leaf

1½ pounds (750 grams) clams

1 pound (500 grams) mussels

Cassoulet

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped chorizo

½ cup chopped shallots or red onion

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 cup diced fennel

1 540-millilitre can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup chopped canned tomatoes

Pinch cayenne

8 large scallops

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Method

To make the bread crumbs, heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until crumbs are golden. Season with a little salt and pepper

To make the stock, place wine, stock, thyme and bay leaf in heavy pot and bring to a boil. Add clams, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add mussels and cover and cook until clams and mussels are open, about 2 more minutes. Strain liquid into bowl and reserve. Remove clams and mussels from shells if desired and reserve.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add chorizo and shallots and sauté for 3 minutes or until shallots are soft. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute longer. Add fennel and sauté for 3 more minutes. Add beans and cook for 2 minutes or until heated through.

Add in reserved clam liquid, tomatoes and cayenne pepper and simmer for 10 minutes or until liquid has thickened a bit. Pat scallops dry and season with salt and pepper. Add to skillet, cover and cook for 3 more minutes or until scallops are opaque. Stir in clams, mussels and parsley and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle toasted breadcrumbs over cassoulet and serve at once.

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