Oysters Rockefeller

For the oyster lover, here is a fabulous variation. If you don't relish oysters (it always surprises us how many people don't), try this anyway.

The trick is not to skimp on the oysters-they disappear like so many salted peanuts. Bottled oysters, if very fresh, will do, but of course it's better to get them alive in the shell and shuck them yourself. The notion of eating oysters live is repellent to some, but the French won't eat them any other way; when the Gauls open the shell, they prod the bivalve in the erogenous zone with a small fork-if the beast doesn't jiggle, it goes down the sink. The live ones slither wiggling down the gullet. Of course, no oyster will survive a baking in the wet-pot, but it's good to know he was alive just before he was popped in the oven.

Ingredients

  • 2 large bunches fresh spinach, cleaned and shredded
  • 18 to 24 (or more) large oysters, shucked, liquid reserved
  • ¼ stick butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons arrowroot, approximately
  • ½ cup light cream or half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
  • 3 tablespoons Pernod or 2 tablespoons anisette
  • 4 thin slices French bread, toasted

Method

Presoak a clay pot, top and bottom, in water for 15 minutes. Place the shredded spinach on the bottom of the presoaked pot.

Combine the butter, salt, pepper, nutmeg, garlic, and wine in a saucepan, heat until well mixed, and pour over the spinach.

Add the oysters and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Cover the pot and place it in a cold oven.

Set the oven temperature at 450 degrees.

Cook for 35 minutes, then remove from the oven and pour off the sauce into a saucepan. Return the pot, uncovered, to the oven for another 5 minutes to allow the cheese to brown.

Meanwhile bring the liquid in the saucepan to a boil; add the butter and the arrowroot mixed with the light cream, the reserve oyster liquid, anchovy paste, and Pernod. Stir until thick.

Place the spinach and oysters on the toasted French bread and cover with the sauce.

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