Sometimes the things that happen unexpectedly work out better than my very best plans.
A few weeks ago our neighbor down the street called, offering a tub of fresh oysters—about a peck. I knew NOTHING about oysters, although I had heard that you only eat them in months sporting an 'r'. DecembeR—check, so I said 'yes'. I have google. Surely I could figure this out.
And I know I love Oysters Rockefeller—well, let me say I 'enjoy' Oysters Rockefeller. The diet plan I just joined emphasizes that you don't 'love' food, you 'enjoy' it. Whatever. I 'enjoy' oyster shots, too.
After checking all my best food sources, I had a plan formulating, and left for the grocery store, via the liquor store. Seems Oysters Rockefeller recipes all have some kind of licorice flavored alcoholic beverage involved. One look at the prices, and I was about to leave, when the lady at the register asked if she could help. I told her what I was trying to do, and she had the answer: Anisette $9/bottle—that was more like it. She assured me we would never know the difference between that and the $30 Sambuca. She also gave me an oyster tip: put them in the freezer for a little while, and they open much easier. Sounded like good advice, since another neighbor uses a similar strategy with clams. Plus, I overheard the cash register lady saying while I was searching for cheaper liquor that her husband was a shrimper—had to shoo the cat out of the bed whenever he got home from a trip. That qualified her as a legitimate seafood information source to me. My grocery list consisted of: fresh spinach, heavy cream, parmesan cheese, onion, garlic, bacon—well, to be honest, I couldn't find a recipe that even mentioned bacon, but bacon makes everything better—plus a bunch of seasoning stuff I had on hand: salt, pepper, tabasco and Worcestershire.
Just as I got home from the store, my husbnad came in from a morning golf game. He was armed with more oyster information from his personal oyster authority. Seems we should put the oysters in the oven at a high temperature for a few minutes, until they opened on their own, and proceed from there.
We opted for the oven method.
I also bought a box of rock salt at the store, and after lining a sheet pan with foil, I covered the foil with a nice layer of salt. I've been served oysters on the half shell resting on a bed of rock salt. There must be a good reason, or not, but I didn't want to take any chances. The rest of the story is history. They were delicious, and we have repeated the process several times. I'm still learning about all the wonders of local seafood!
Peck Fresh Local Oysters in their shells, medium sized
Box Rock Salt
Slices thick bacon, chopped
Sweet Onion, finely diced
Garlic cloves, minced
Fresh Baby Spinach, chopped
Shredded Parmesan Cheese
Freshly Ground Pepper
Blackened Seasoning (Zatarains)
Tabasco, to taste
Anisette per Oyster
1 1/2 cups
Toasted Buttered Bread Crumbs
In This Recipe
Place oysters on a sheet pan, and into a 450 degree oven, or on a grill, just until oysters begin to open, about 5-10 minutes.
Remove and discard top shell, and loosen oyster from bottom shell.
Pour rock salt onto sheet pan to form a base for oysters.
Add bacon to medium sized skillet over medium heat and cook until browned and crisp. Remove bacon to plate and set aside. Leave just enough bacon drippings to cover bottom of pan, and discard the rest. Add onions to pan and saute until tender. Then add garlic and cook for another minute. Finally, add spinach and mix well with onions and garlic until spinach is wilted.
Remove spinach ingredients to medium sized bowl. Add Parmesan Cheese, cream, salt, pepper, blackened seasoning, Worcestershire, and Tabasco. Taste and adjust seasoning. Then step away from the bowl, or you'll eat it all before you ever get to the oysters!
Place oysters in their shells onto the salted sheet pan. Add one teaspoon Anisette to each oyster, and top with a sprinkling of the crisp bacon pieces.
Then add about one-half tablespoon of spinach mixture to each oyster. Top with a nice coat of toasted buttered bread crumbs.
Place pan in 450 degree oven for about 7 minutes, or until mixture is melted and bubbly over oysters.