I’ve been craving grilled oysters for a couple of weeks after seeing a take on Oysters Rockefeller by Chef John Besh. I was lucky enough to find some fresh Blue Point oysters at my local Whole Foods and decided to sub pancetta for crawfish and add trinity and white wine to his simple spinach butter base; the results were amazing and I will be making these again next weekend for a dinner party I’m hosting!
Serves 3-4 as an appetizer, 1 as a main course
1 Dozen Blue Point oysters
¼ lb pancetta, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
½ cup white wine
½ cup chicken stock
8 oz fresh spinach
6 tbsp of butter
S&P to taste
Let’s start with the oysters themselves, as they are the most important and intregal ingredient to this dish. There are purists that will argue with me, but I prefer a sweeter tasting oyster for grilling purposes (and to eat raw for that matter) so the Blue Point fits the bill perfectly. However, in this recipe there are so many rich ingredients that just about any kind of common oyster will do…as long as they’re fresh and not purchased at Kroger… I know some people just don’t get oysters, especially raw, but I bet most of them have never had a really good one that was fresh; these babies smelled of the sea and there was no fishiness what so ever. The clean taste was amazing and reminded me of what really good uni can be like when handled properly.
Let’s start by sautéing the spinach with 1 tbsp of EVOO and a pinch each of S&P. Cook the spinach until it has completely wilted and place on a cutting board to chop fine; set aside. It’s important to carefully watch the spinach as it cooks quick and will dry out and burn in under five minutes; constantly stir and add more EVOO if necessary. I probably don’t need to say this, but spinach cooks down to almost nothing, so if you want a heavier spinach taste, you will need to double the portion for this recipe.
Next sauté the pancetta in 2 tbsp of EVOO for about five minutes and then add the shallot and garlic; cook for an additional minute and add the carrot, onion and celery (the trinity, or mirapoix). Cook this mixture for about five minutes, or until the veggies are soft and then add in the spinach and the white wine to deglaze the pan; be sure to use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
Cook until the wine has been almost absorbed and add the chicken stock; using homemade stock works the best, but any high quality store bought stock will work just fine. Again, simmer until the pan is almost dry and then add the butter; let it melt and then just stir to incorporate.
Preheat your grill to medium high and spoon 1-2 tbsp of the mixture onto each oyster; cook covered for 7-10 minutes, but check at about five to ensure they are not burning. The shell will act as a heating plate and the oyster will sauté with the veggie mixture; the butter will brown and leave a very complex flavor that will have you and your guests in amazement for weeks to come!