Sometimes the things that happen unexpectedly work out better than my very best plans.
Yesterday morning our neighbor down the street called, offering a tub of fresh oysters—about a peck. I know NOTHING about oysters, except that you only eat them in months sporting an 'r'. OctobeR—check, so I said 'yes'. I have google. Surely I can 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, Doug 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.
So oysters went into the 450° oven for about ten minutes before they started opening on their own.
Meanwhile, I made the 'Williams-Rockefeller' part. Chopped up six slices of thick bacon, browned it and removed it from the pan, leaving enough bacon drippings to cover the bottom of the pan. Added half a sweet onion, finely chopped, 3 garlic cloves, minced, and after the onion was transparent, a 9 oz. Bag of baby spinach well chopped went into the bacon drippings. Stirred to combine and cooked until spinach was wilted. Then added about one-third cup shredded parmesan cheese, two tablespoons heavy cream, 1 teaspoon salt, half teaspoon pepper, one teaspoon Zatarains Blackened Seasoning (just because I was looking for more heat), dash of Worcestershire Sauce, and Tabasco to taste. Doug came in for a taste test, and as we tasted and re-tasted, we decided we'd better stop tasting, or there would be none left for the oysters. It was GOOD!
When the oysters began to open, I took them out of the oven and removed the top shell loosening the oyster from its lid. Next I poured about a teaspoon of Anisette onto each oyster along with a few bacon pieces. Finally about half a tablespoon of spinach mixture went over each oyster and a sprinkling of toasted buttered bread crumbs. Back in the oven for about 7 minutes, until everything was nice and hot and browned. And then we ATE them... Just delicious.
Can't wait to hear what I 'should' have done, but for a test drive, I'd say we were cruising!
Thank you, Bill and Maria for the oysters, AND the perfect wine pairing: Prosecco!