As 2010 comes to a close, I would like to thank everyone who visits Savoring Time in the Kitchen and for all of your kindness. I would also like to wish each and every one of you a Happy and Healthy New Year!
The weekend before Christmas, our gourmet group got together for a festive, holiday gourmet at another group member's home. As is the custom with our group, each couple is assigned a recipe to prepare from the menu which is chosen by the hosts. Our assigned recipe was a baked oyster appetizer.
Not being from a part of the country where oysters are popular, I've never developed a taste for them and never think of ordering them in restaurants - mainly for fear of them not being fresh. We are fortunate to have a very well-stocked grocer near us and, as luck would have it, they had just received shucked oysters for sale. I watched as a new container of shucked oysters was opened in front of me so I knew they were the freshest I could possibly get.
Our group knows we are always free to 'interpret' our assigned recipes as we like, so the final recipe ended up being a composite of several I consulted. The end result was so delicious that everyone wanted to have my version. They were delicious and I know I will make this recipe again!
Baked Oyster Appetizer
About 2-1/2 pounds of fresh, shucked oysters, drained. Enough for each person to have about 5-6 large oysters
1 tablespoon of bacon fat or olive oil (the bacon fat is not necessary but the flavor is great with oysters)
2 leeks thinly sliced (white and pale green part only)
2/3 cup chopped celery
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp minced garlic (about 4-5 cloves)
¼ cup dry white wine
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups bread crumbs from Italian bread
1-1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp dried oregano
¾ cup finely minced fresh parsley
Place 10 ramekin dishes on a large baking sheet with rim.
In a large sauté pan over medium heat, sauté leek, celery, cayenne and bay leaf in bacon fat or olive oil until softened, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook just a couple of minutes until fragrant.
Add white wine and cook briefly, until wine is mostly absorbed.
Add softened butter and stir until melted. Remove pan from heat. Remove bay leaf, then add the rest of the ingredients and stir together until well blended.
Place 5-6 large oysters in the bottom of each ramekin. Divide the bread crumb mixture equally over the top of oysters. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake. This can be done in early in the afternoon the day of serving.
Preheat oven to 450 F.
Bake ramekins about 18 minutes, or until bread crumbs are golden and browned. Place ramekins on individual serving plates.