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Oysters, Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta Gratin

Serves 6 as a first course.

  • 12 live oysters in their shells
  • 2 ounces pancetta, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3/4 cup shredded* Brussels sprouts
  • 1⁄2 cup bread crumbs
  • Hot sauce to taste.

Preheat the oven to 400°. 

1. Shuck the oysters. Separate the oysters completely from the shells and set aside, reserving the liquor. Discard the top shells but keep the bottom shells.

2. In a skillet over medium heat, warm a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook for 4 minutes until starting to brown. Add the minced shallots, shredded Brussels sprouts and 2 tablespoons of the butter and sauté, stirring, for another minute or two. Give the mixture a squirt of two of hot sauce, stir once more and remove to a side plate.

3. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the pan, then remove from heat and add the bread crumbs and a tablespoon of the reserved oyster liquor, tossing to moisten.

4. Place a portion of the shallot/pancetta/sprouts mixture in each of the bottom shells and top with an oyster. Sprinkle with the moistened bread crumbs, and arrange on a baking sheet.

5. Bake in the oven for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Serve immediately.

*Note: if you have excellent knife skills and the right knife (I like a rectangular-bladed Japanese vegetable knife for this type of work) you can shred the sprouts by just shaving off thin (under 1/16") slices. Or, use a mandoline for consistent slices. However you do it, the shreds must be very thin for this dish!


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