• Oysters Rockefeller

    Ingredients:

    • 3/4 cup firmly packed watercress sprigs (2 oz before discarding coarse stems), finely chopped
    • 1 1/3 cups firmly packed baby spinach (1 1/3 oz), finely chopped
    • 3 tablespoons finely chopped scallion greens
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
    • 2 teaspoons minced celery
    • 3 tablespoons coarse fresh bread crumbs (preferably from a day-old baguette)
    • 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 teaspoon Pernod or other anise-flavored liquor
    • Pinch of cayenne
    • 3 bacon slices
    • About 10 cups kosher salt for baking and serving (3 lb)
    • 20 small oysters on the half shell, oysters picked over for shell fragments and shells scrubbed well

    Directions:

    Toss together watercress, spinach, scallion greens, parsley, celery, and 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon bread crumbs in a bowl. Melt butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, then add watercress mixture and cook, stirring, until spinach is wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in Pernod, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste, then transfer mixture to a bowl and chill, covered, until cold, about 1 hour.

    Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F.

    While watercress mixture chills, cook bacon in cleaned skillet over moderate heat, turning, until crisp, then drain on paper towels and finely crumble.

    Spread 5 cups kosher salt in a large shallow baking pan (1 inch deep) and nestle oysters (in shells) in it. Spoon watercress mixture evenly over oysters, then top with bacon and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons bread crumbs. Bake oysters until edges of oysters begin to curl and bread crumbs are golden, about 10 minutes.

    Serve warm oysters in shells, nestled in kosher salt (about 5 cups), on a platter.

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