Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Roasted Oysters with Bacon and Parmigiano-Reggiano

A couple years ago, Vince and I took a day trip up to Skagit County, Washington to see the tulips. We stopped in La Connor for lunch. The special of the day was Roasted Oysters. The menu described the dish as roasted oysters with a bacon cream sauce and seasoned bread crumbs. I asked the chef if he could accommodate my gluten sensitivity by leaving off the bread crumbs and he obliged. Yippee! What arrived was a creamy, decadent dish - briny, meaty oysters topped with a garlicky cream sauce and smokey bacon crumbles. We ate lunch on the sunny patio overlooking the river, watching eagles fight over a fish. A nice glass of Chardonnay, and I was in heaven.

I was so delighted by the oysters that I stopped on the way home and bought some fresh ones to recreate the dish. It is simply marvelous, if I do say so myself!

Try it as an appetizer or luncheon entree with a green salad.

Roasted Oysters with Bacon and Parmesan

Roasted Oysters with Bacon and Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan Cheese)

1 dozen large oysters, in the shell (I used Samish Bay)
1 cup heavy cream
1 to 2 cloves garlic
4 strips of cooked bacon, crumbled
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano (go for the good stuff here, not the old green can)
Fresh cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Peel and slightly crush the garlic.  Add the garlic and heavy cream to a small sauce pan.  Heat to a simmer and reduce by half (approximately 10 minutes).  Remove from heat.

Scrub the oysters with a wire brush until clean. Shuck the cleaned oyster and place them on a baking sheet.  (Note: Shake a layer of rock salt onto the baking sheet before placing your oysters.  This will help them to stay upright and level while roasting.)  Sprinkle with bacon crumbles.  Spoon 1 ½ teaspoons of Parmegiano Reggiano onto each oyster.  Then spoon on heavy cream dividing it equally among the oysters.  

Roast the oysters until they are hot and the cream has begun to bubble and brown, approximately 10 minutes.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Schweinschmorbraten / German-Style Braised Pork

I've been craving roasted and braised food lately.  Perhaps it's the gray, rainy sky and short light of winter.  Nothing seems to be more satisfying when it's gloomy than a warm, rich roast with root vegetables.  Here's last nights' dinner.

German-Style Braised Pork
Serves 4

4 cloves
2 slices thick-cut bacon
3 lb bone-in pork shoulder roast
Salt and Pepper
2 tbsp bacon fat, lard or canola oil
2 small parsnips, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
1 large or 2 medium turnips, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1" chunks
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs of thyme
1 tbsp arrowroot powder or cornstarch
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp wine vinegar

Heat oven to 300F.

Thinly slice the garlic cloves lengthwise.  Slice the bacon cross-wise into 1/2" strips.  Using a paring knife, pierce the pork roast randomly and insert a slice or garlic or piece of bacon.  (Studding pieces of bacon or salt pork in a roast is called larding.) Season the pork generously with salt and pepper.

Place a small roasting pan or flame-proof casserole pan onto a burner.  Heat over medium heat.  Add lard.  When the lard is hot but not quite smoking add the pork roast and brown on all sides. This should take about 20 minutes.

After the meat is completely browned, push it to one side of the pan and add the vegetables.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have begun to soften - about 15 minutes.  Add the wine, stir and scrape the bottom of the pan gently to loosen any caramelized bit.  Increase the heat slightly and simmer until the wine is reduced by about half - 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the stock, bay leaves and thyme.  Use a set of tongs to lift the roast and place it on top of the vegetables. 

Cover the pan with aluminum foil.  Place in the preheated oven and roast until fork tender - about 2 1/2 hours. 

Transfer the pork to a platter and use a fork to pull chunks away from the bone.  Use a slotted spoon to arrange the vegetables around the chunks of pork.  Discard bay leaves and thyme sprigs.

Bring the roasting pan with the juices to a boil over high heat.  Mix the arrowroot powder with the water in a small bowl.  Whisk the arrowroot mixture into the boiling juices and cook until sauce has thickened, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the vinegar and check the sauce for salt and pepper.  Serve alongside the roast.