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Inspired by both Oysters Rockefeller and escargot, this dish features oysters baked with a savory, creamed-spinach filling. As creator Roger Ma, executive chef of the Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar puts it, this appetizer or main is “garlicky, herbaceous and rich.”
1 dozen medium-sized beach oysters
Shuck oysters, place shucked meat and oyster juice in container, strain and keep oyster juice with a sieve. Clean the bottom half of the shells by boiling in water for 5 minutes, scrub them if needed, after remove and chill, these will be used as the serving vessels.
Creamed Spinach Filling
1 lb (454 g) fresh spinach (washed and leaf trimmed)
1 shallot sliced
1 garlic clove, micro-planed
1 tbsp (15 mL) unsalted butter
1/4 cup (60 mL) white wine
1 cup (250 mL) heavy cream
1 tsp (5 mL) lemon juice
3/4 tbsp (11 mL) Worcester sauce
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
1 Italian parsley sprig
Zest of 1 lemon
Reserved oyster juice from shucking oysters
Salt and pepper to taste
Blanch spinach in salted boiling water for about 1/2 minute at a rapid boil, shock in ice bath, remove when cool, drain and squeeze excess water out of blanched spinach. Chop spinach roughly, set aside.
In a small pot, melt butter and sweat shallot and garlic till soft and translucent. Deglaze with white wine, oyster juice, add aromatics and cover with cream, reduce cream by one quarter. Season with seasonings, cool then add chopped spinach, mix well and chill.
Garlic Parmesan Breadcrumb
1/4 cup (60 mL) unsalted butter
1/4 cup (60 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp (5 mL) dried oregano
3 garlic clove micro-planed
Zest of 1 lemon
1 bay leaf
1 small pinch of dried chili flake
2 sprigs of thyme
3 cups of panko breadcrumb (lightly blitzed in a food processor to make a little finer)
1/4 cup (60 mL) shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup (125 mL) Parmesan cheese, micro-planed
Melt butter in large pot, add all ingredients except for the breadcrumbs and cheeses. Allow mixture to infuse on low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Combine infused butter with bread crumb, mix well until fully incorporated, add cheese, season with salt, pepper, a dash of Tabasco and lemon juice.
To build oysters:
On a baking sheet, take a piece of foil that is almost double the size of your sheet and crumple it like an accordion and line your sheet with it, neatly arrange the cleaned oyster shells on the foil so they’re stable and don’t move around. Add 1 heaping tbsp of spinach mix in each shell.
Cut oyster in half (horizontal cut, not lengthwise, this will make the oyster easier to eat) and place on top of spinach, squeeze a bit of lemon juice onto oyster. Cover oyster with the bread crumb mix, lightly pack it.
Bake at 400 F for 8-12 minutes, until the bread crumb becomes deep dark golden brown and oysters are hot inside by checking with a cake tester — the tester should be very hot to the touch.