Sunday, September 20, 2015

Vermouth Baked Oysters

As many of you may already know, I am NOT an oyster fan.  I do live with the world's biggest oyster lover though, and I am more than happy to support his habit (it's not that bad as habits go!)

Last Saturday, we drove up to Point Reyes Station for a Sonoma-Cutrer wine and cheese event at Farmstead Cheese farm (amazing cheese- more about that later!) After the lunch event was over we hopped back in the Mini Cooper and took a quick detour down to Tomales Bay Oyster Company to pick up small Pacific oysters for Tom.  Fresh, just out of the bay oysters...according to Tom, the only way to eat them.

Sometimes I can eat them barbequed, I suspect it may have something to do with the sauce? Or maybe the white wine for courage?

On our way back through Point Reyes Station, we stopped and wandered through town, and into one of my favorite small bookstores, Point Reyes Books,  stumbling upon Sunset Magazines's "Eating Up the West Coast" cookbook. (Yes, I bought a copy!)

Part travel guide and part cookbook - great pics and fun suggestions for places to visit on our coast. Thumbing through the inspired pages, I ran across a baked oyster recipe.Didn't look too difficult, so thought I would give it a try - who knows, I might even change my mind about my dislike of oysters?

Here's my adaptation - rather decadent and rather yum.  I promise.

  • 6-8 shucked oysters - in shells, DO NOT pour off liquid upon opening
  • Rock Salt - enough to keep oysters level in baking dish
  • 2 slices of best-quality bacon
  • 2 T. finely chopped shallots
  • 2 T. Sweet Vermouth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup rough chopped spinach leaves
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 T. finely diced fresh tomatoes
  • 6 tsp. dried bread crumbs
Snipped chives and lemon wedges for serving.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cook bacon until crispy and golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.  Reserve bacon fat for sauteing the shallots.  When cool, crumble bacon, set aside.

2.  Saute shallots in bacon fat over medium heat until golden brown. Then add in the Sweet Vermouth to deglaze pan; stirring around the edges and base of the pan. Simmering for 1 minute to burn off the alcohol. Stir in the cream and simmer gently until slightly reduced and bubbly; 2-3 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and add the chopped spinach, stir constantly until the spinach wilts; 1-2 minutes. Season with the hot sauce, salt and pepper.

4. Pour rock salt into a rimmed baking dish - enough to keep nestled oysters upright while baking. Place the oysters in their shells on the rock salt and top each with approximately 1 T. of creamed-Vermouth spinach mixture, covering each oyster completely.

5. Top the oysters with 1/2 tsp. chopped tomato, crumbled bacon and then finish with a generous sprinkle of bread crumbs.

6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden on the top and bubbly around the edges.   

7. Time to eat! Serve with a lovely Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Gris.

Let's just say, I may have been persuaded to change my mind after I baked up these fabulously delish, rich baked oysters!

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