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February 2005 Issue
Oysters with Champagne Sauce
by Philip R. Gantt
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Welcome to Seasoned Cooking and to Phil's International Flair!

Well, winter is upon us and in full swing. This is the season to prepare food that warms a person from the inside and sharing it with someone to warm you on the outside. And, with Valentine's Day approaching, it's good to have a simple recipe to share with that special someone.

Oysters are said to have properties that enhance romantic encounters. I can't be absolutely certain about that, but they sure taste good. For those that don't have an aversion to shellfish, this recipe is sure to please. From what I gather, this recipe is of Irish origin. Then again, an Irishman just might use Guinness instead of champagne!

Now, on to the recipe! Be well, and good eating!

 

Oysters with Champagne Sauce

When selecting oysters, be sure to avoid any that have open shells as these animals are dead. Oysters naturally filter the water for food. Any shells that are open are contaminated by the bacteria in the water. You do not want to eat bad shellfish. Only select oysters that are alive in tanks with circulating water.

Oysters come in a variety of sizes. I prefer the small to medium sized oysters as they seem to be a better fit for my mouth. Oysters can be obtained in most fish markets as well as many oriental markets.

  • 16 fresh oysters on the half shell
  • 2/3 cup Hollandaise sauce
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 glass champagne
First, you will need to shuck the oysters. Basically, this means prying the shell apart with a paring knife over a cutting board. Be sure to keep your hand out of the way as the knife might slip as you apply force. Ideally, you want to wiggle the tip of the knife between the 2 shell halves and pry the oyster open far enough to work the knife along the inside surface of the shell. This will cut the muscle that holds the shell together. Once this muscle is cut, you can pry the shell open by hand. Scrape the knife along the inside surface of the shell, both sides, to free the meat. Rinse the oyster meat, drain, and save 16 unbroken shells for serving. Discard any broken or unused shells. Once your oysters are shucked, rinsed, and drained, place one oyster in each half shell. Place these oyster halves in a baking dish.

Prepare a basic Hollandaise sauce and add the shallots while the sauce is hot, stirring constantly. Add the glass of champagne, approximately 8 ounces, and simmer for about 3 to 4 minutes or more to thicken. Stir until smooth and creamy. Spoon some of the sauce upon each oyster and place under a preheated broiler, about 4 inches from the heat source, for 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately. Allow 4 oysters per person.

You can make the Hollandaise sauce from scratch, or purchase a sauce mix. The packaged mixes are actually pretty good and very easy to use. McCormick, French's, Knorr and several other manufacturers offer Hollandaise sauce mix products. Simply add butter and milk, half and half, or cream, whisk and heat to make the sauce. For this recipe, you can substitute the champagne for some of the milk or cream. This recipe makes an excellent introduction to an elegant meal.

Enjoy, and have a great Valentine's Day with that special someone.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes
 



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