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Warm Oysters with Leek and Bacon Sauce

Warm Oysters with Leek and Bacon Sauce
To shuck the oysters, first scrub them with a stiff brush and rinse well. Grip an oyster, flat side up, with a folded kitchen towel. Push the tip of an oyster knife into one side of the hinge, opposite the shell's concentric ridges, and pry upward to open the shell. Keeping the blade edge against the inside of the top shell, run the knife all around the oyster to sever the muscle that holds the shell halves together. Lift off and discard the top shell, catching any spilled oyster liquor in a bowl. Run the knife underneath the oyster to loosen it from the shell.

Ingredients:

  • 6 bacon slices, coarsely chopped
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1⁄2 lb. leeks, white and light green portions,
     finely chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper,
     to taste
  • 24 to 36 oysters on the half shell, liquor
     reserved
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh dill or snipped fresh chives

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 375°F.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, fry the bacon until crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or spatula, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain and cool. Finely crumble. Pour off all but 1 Tbs. of the fat from the pan.

Return the sauté pan to medium heat and add the butter. When the butter foam subsides, add the leeks and sauté until they just begin to soften, about 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low, add the cream and bring to a simmer. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Add the bacon and season with salt and white pepper. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

Spread the shucked oysters on the half shells in a single layer in a baking dish. Bake until the oysters plump up and their edges curl, about 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the oyster liquor into the sauce and stir well. Return to low heat.

Transfer the oysters to warmed individual plates. Spoon the sauce over the oysters, garnish with the dill and serve immediately. Serves 6.

Preparation Tip: To save time in the kitchen, ask your fishmonger to shuck the oysters, reserving the shells and oyster liquor. Use the shucked oysters within a few hours.

Serving Tip: It is best to serve oysters in the winter months when the waters are icy cold and shellfish are at their peak.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Fish, by Shirley King (Simon & Schuster, 2002).