Monday, February 15, 2010

The [Brrrr] ‘R’ Months

By Pat Tanner

The debate continues as to whether the old saw still holds that you should eat oysters only in months containing the letter ‘r’ in their names. Since I glom on to any excuse to devour the tasty mollusks, I’m sticking with the ‘r’ theory, which allows eight months of indulgence.

Here are my current favorite preparations, both of which require minimum effort (other than the shucking) but yield maximum results.

Oysters with Bloody Mary Mignonette
“The Ferry House Cookbook,” by Bobby Trigg (2006)
1-1/2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (or less to taste)
1/4 cup vodka, preferably Absolut
1/2 cup tomato juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon minced fresh chives
36 oysters in the shell, scrubbed
Vodka for splashing

In a small bowl, stir together the horseradish, shallot, and pepper. Whisk in the vodka, then the tomato juice, then the lime juice. Garnish with the chives. Cover and refrigerate.
Shuck each oyster and smell to make sure it is fresh. Remove any broken shell or debris. Cut through the muscle holding the oyster to the shell and serve the oysters in their larger bottom shells in a bowl set on ice. Splash each oyster with vodka and then top with a dollop of mignonette.

Serves 6.

Pancetta-Wrapped Oysters and Arugula Salad
2 dozen fresh oysters, in their shells
4 ounces sliced pancetta
2 large lemons, each cut lengthwise into 4 wedges
8 ounces baby arugula, washed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Grilled lemon halves, for garnish
1 tablespoon snipped chives, for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Thoroughly scrub and carefully open oysters. Discard top shell. Cut under the oyster meat to release it from the bottom shell. Cut pancetta into 2-inch-long strips; wrap oysters with pancetta strips and return to the half shell. Place pancetta-wrapped oysters and lemon wedges on a large broiling pan. Roast 10 minutes or until pancetta is crisp.

To serve, in a large bowl toss arugula with olive oil and salt; place salad on a large platter. Arrange oysters (in shells) on arugula. Garnish with grilled lemons and chives.
Makes 6 first-course servings.

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