An elegant holiday appetizer or first course that’s deceptively simple to make – fresh oysters topped with garlicky spinach breadcrumbs and broiled until golden brown.
coarse or rock salt or crumbled-up foil, for the pan (to stabilize the oysters)
24 fresh oysters, shucked
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium shallot, peeled & finely diced (about 3 tablespoons)
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
1 cup finely chopped baby spinach
1 cup finely chopped parsley leaves
2 tablespoons Armanino Creamy Garlic Sauce
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
ground cayenne pepper
lemon wedges for garnish
Heat the broiler to high and fill a rimmed half sheet pan with ½” rock or coarse salt or crumble up foil to stabilize the oysters during broiling.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter.
Sauté the shallot until soft, 2-3 minutes.
Add the breadcrumbs and sauté until they are golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.
Stir in the spinach, parsley and creamy garlic sauce. Cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice and a good pinch each of salt of cayenne. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
Lay the shucked oysters on the prepared sheet pan.
Place a spoonful of the breadcrumb mixture on top of the oysters.
Broil until just golden, 2-3 minutes.
Serve hot with lemon wedges.
Oyster types: East Coast oysters (Wellfleet, Blue Point) tend to be very salty and briny, with a clean, crisp seawater flavor. West Coast oysters (Kumamoto, Fanny Bays, Olympia) have a softer, creamier texture with a mildly metallic/mineral or strong, almost fishlike flavor. Both types are delicious and will work in this recipe. The most important factor is to make sure they are very fresh.
Oysters in the shell must, by law, be sold live. When buying, they should be clamped tightly shut. If they are open at all and don’t close immediately when tapped, they are dead and should be discarded. If there is any kind of strong fishy, off aroma, discard. Fresh live oysters should smell like a sea breeze. If in doubt, throw it out.
To store: store your oysters in a container with the cupped side of the shell down, so as to retain as much liquid as possible. Cover the container loosely with a damp cloth, and keep it in the refrigerator for up to a week. Do not cover the container tightly with plastic wrap and do not store in water, or the oysters will suffocate and die.
Before shucking, oysters should be vigorously scrubbed under cold water to remove any dirt, mud, sand from the rough outer shell.
If you’ve never shucked an oyster, get yourself an oyster knife and google YouTube videos first. It’s not difficult but it does take some practice. Know that every batch with have a few very stubborn ones. Alternatively, pop the whole oysters, cup side down, into a very hot oven for a few minutes (400°-450°F). The heat will loosen up the muscle in the shell and since these will be cooked again, this method works very well. Place the heated oyster, cup side down, on a kitchen towel. Insert an oyster knife or butter knife into the hinge and the end and pop it open. Gently scrape the knife against the muscle to release the top shell and cut the oyster meat from the bottom of the shell. Try to retain as much liquid as possible. Place on a sheet pan and chill until needed.