Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Roasted Oyster with Parmesan and Bacon

A couple years ago, Vince and I took a day trip up to Skagit County, Washington to see the tulips. We stopped in La Conner for lunch. The special of the day was Roasted Oysters. The menu described the dish as roasted oysters with a bacon cream sauce and seasoned bread crumbs. I asked the chef if he could accommodate my gluten sensitivity by leaving off the bread crumbs and he obliged. Yippee! 

What arrived was a creamy, decadent dish - briny, meaty oysters topped with a garlicky cream sauce and smoky bacon crumbles. We ate lunch on the sunny patio overlooking the river, watching eagles fight over a fish. A nice glass of Chardonnay, and I was in heaven.

I was so delighted by the oysters that I stopped on the way home and bought some fresh ones to recreate the dish. It is simply marvelous, if I do say so myself!

If you've never worked with oysters before, don't be intimidated. All you need is a sink full of water, a strong bristled brush (I use a small barbecue cleaning brush with wire bristles), an oyster knife - a sturdy, dull knife with a blunt tip - and a oyster glove or kitchen towel.

First, soak the oysters in cool water and scrub with the wire brush to loosen and remove any bits of broken shell and debris.

Place the oysters on a work flat surface, rounded side down. Hold an oyster using a glove or a kitchen towel. Insert the tip of your oyster knife into the hinge of the shell and twist it to open. Once the hinge has been broken, slide the knife between the top and bottom shell to detach the abductor muscle of the oyster. Remove the top half of the shell and then use the oyster knife to loosen the oyster from the bottom shell.

Roasted Oysters with Bacon and Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan Cheese)

1 dozen large oysters, in the shell (I used Samish Bay)
1 cup heavy cream
1 to 2 cloves garlic
4 strips of cooked bacon, crumbled
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano (go for the good stuff here, not the old green can)
Fresh cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Peel and slightly crush the garlic. Add the garlic and heavy cream to a small sauce pan. 
Heat to a simmer and reduce by half (approximately 10 minutes). Remove from heat.

Scrub the oysters with a wire brush until clean. Shuck the cleaned oyster and place them on a baking sheet. (Note: Shake a layer of rock salt onto the baking sheet before placing your oysters. This will help them to stay upright and level while roasting.) Sprinkle with bacon crumbles. Spoon 1 ½ teaspoons of Parmigiano Reggiano onto each oyster. Then spoon on heavy cream dividing it equally among the oysters.  

Roast the oysters until they are hot and the cream has begun to bubble and brown, approximately 10 minutes.

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