Jacques Pépin's Seafood Bread

I grew up watching cooking programs on PBS - Julia Child, the Frugal Gourmet, and the Galloping Gourmet to name a few. I love that Jacques Pépin has remained loyal to PBS and his KQED roots. I've enjoyed his solo programs as well as those he shared with his daughter Claudine. One show I particularly enjoyed was the one he shared with his friend Julia Child. Watching them on television was like getting a glimpse into the deeper friendship they shared. One of the many recipes I got from their show was Jacques Pépin's Seafood Bread.


Stuffed with fish, calamari, shrimp, and mushrooms, this seafood bread can be served as an appetizer or sliced into larger pieces as an entree with a salad. The recipe itself is quite versatile. I've seen it presented differently in two of his cookbooks - Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home and Jacques Pépin Celebrates - as well as online at the San Francisco Examiner.

I would recommend looking at what's fresh at your local market and going from there. You'll need about 2 pounds of seafood. This time I used salmon, calamari, and shrimp, but I've also used haddock and scallops.

You can also choose the herbs you like best. I used dill and parsley. His recipes also call for tarragon but I don't care for the anise flavor with fish. I've also used chives, basil, and thyme.

Start by slicing of the top of the loaf and hollowing it out. Chef often uses round loaves but I like using oval loaves for slices instead of wedges. The loaf should have a good crust that can hold its shape. Leave about a half-inch shell all around.


About half of the soft inside bread is used for fresh bread crumbs as the topping. The rest is set aside for other uses.

Next make a compound butter using soften butter, aromatics, and herbs. In this case I used a medium shallot, parsley, and dill. Season with salt and pepper and a little white wine and it's ready to go. Chef's recipes also call for adding a handful of nuts - pecans or almonds - into the butter but I opted to leave them out.


Spread about half of the butter inside of the loaf shell being sure to cover the sides and bottom. The butter serves as barrier to hold the filling juices inside to keep the bread from getting soggy.

Layer the seafood and mushrooms inside of the bread, cover with the remaining butter, then top with a thick layer of fresh bread crumbs. Sprinkle white wine over the bread crumbs and it's ready to bake.


After an hour in a 400 degree oven the seafood bread comes out golden brown and crusty. You have to be patient and let it stand for at least 10 minutes before you cut into it but it's well worth the wait.


Enjoy!

Jacques Pépin's Seafood Bread

Modified slightly from Epicurious

1 large, oval country-bread loaf (about 1½ pounds)

Garlic-Herb Butter
½ cup parsley
½ cup herbs (a mixture of your preference like dill, parsley, basil, chives, chervil, etc.)
3 large cloves garlic
3 tablespoons pecan halves or almonds, optional
1½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons dry white wine
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped (about ⅓ cup)

Note: use a combination of seafood that's freshest and to your liking. You need about 1½ - 2 pounds total
½ pound shrimp, shelled
½ pound sea scallops
½ pound salmon, boneless and skinless
½ pound wild or white cultivated mushrooms
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
A cup dry white vermouth or white wine

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

To prepare the bread: Using a sharp knife, cut off the top of the bread loaf, and remove the top or "lid" of the bread. Set this "lid" aside, to eat or use in another recipe.

Measuring in about ¾-inch from the edge of the loaf, cut down into and all around the loaf, taking care not to penetrate the sides or bottom, to create a neat edge from which to remove the interior crumb. Twist the soft insides to loosen them, then pull them out, so you have a large receptacle or shell.

If the insides of the bread are very soft, cut them into pieces and dry them briefly in the hot oven. Then place about half of the insides into the bowl of a food processor, and process to make 2½ to 3 cups of crumbs. Set these aside, and keep the remainder of the bread insides for another use.

To prepare the garlic-herb butter: Put the parsley, other herbs, and garlic in the food-processor bowl, and process until the mixture is chopped fine. Add the nuts, softened butter, salt, pepper, and white wine, and process until blended. Stir in the shallots.

To prepare the filling: Cut the seafood into 1-inch pieces, and slice the mushrooms.

To assemble the loaf: Using a large spatula, coat the inside of the hollow loaf with about a third of the garlic-herb butter. Sprinkle half the mushrooms and half the seafood into the bread receptacle, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Add a layer of the garlic-herb butter, then about half of the breadcrumbs, and the remainder of the seafood and mushrooms. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Finally, spread the remaining butter on top, cover with the remaining breadcrumbs, and moisten the breadcrumbs with the vermouth or white wine.

Place the filled bread loaf on a cookie sheet, and bake for about 1 hour. Let the bread rest for 10 minutes after it comes out of the oven, then cut it into large chunks, and serve immediately.

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