Oysters au Gratin
Down our way oysters are a way of life—harvesting them, celebrating with fund-raising oyster roasts, and enjoying them for dinner any time we want. Fortunate are those who have an adept oyster shucker in the house. There’s nothing like a freshly shucked, ice-cold oyster on the half shell—a little hot sauce, a little lemon. But for the rest of us—we roast them, steam them, or buy them freshly shucked in pint jars. This simple recipe is extremely adaptable—not only with amounts of ingredients, but with baking and serving. Bake them one by one in their shells, put a few oysters in several large shells (pictured), or make a shallow dish casserole. All ingredients are to taste and geared to the number of servings.
- Oysters, shucked, with liquor
- Bacon, cooked until crisp, then crumbled
- Onion and garlic, to taste—grated
- Spinach or other hardy greens, washed and chopped—just a handful
- Heavy cream
- Parmesan or Romano cheese, finely grated
- Cayenne pepper
- Salt and black pepper
- Buttered, seasoned bread crumbs for topping
Melt butter in sauté pan—off heat, add bread crumbs, salt and pepper, and reserve in bowl. Wipe out pan, add more butter. Sauté onion and garlic until fragrant–add chopped greens until wilted. Add crumbled bacon, cayenne, salt and pepper. Gradually add a few tablespoons of heavy cream and simmer to thicken slightly. Off the heat, add grated cheese until sauce gets a bit thicker. Chill until ready to use.
If using shells, prepare a heavy metal pan by filling with rock salt, or crumbled foil—either will stabilize the filled shells. Put one oyster with a little of its liquor, in each small shell, or several oysters in larger shells. Top with small amount of chilled sauce and buttered bread crumbs. Bake for 5-7 minutes in 450’ oven, until crumbs are crisp and oyster sauce is bubbling. Or layer oysters, sauce and bread crumbs in shallow, buttered casserole and bake for 15-20 minutes at 425’.
The Kitchen Hive