Hot Oysters on the Half Shell


Hot Oysters on the Half Shell

Hot Oysters on the Half Shell
Hot Oysters on the Half Shell

Hot oysters in the shell make an appealing first course or hors d’oeuvre. The various elements—the creamed spinach, the hollandaise, and the oysters themselves—can be prepared ahead of time and then broiled just before serving. You can also vary the topping and the vegetable bed on which the oysters sit (see variations). This is a rich dish, so 3 oysters are usually the right amount for a first course.


– 12 oysters, shucked.

– One 10-ounce bunch spinach, stems removed.

– 3 tablespoons heavy cream.

– Salt.

– Pepper.

– 1 tablespoon curry powder.

– 1 tablespoon butter.

– 1 cup Hollandaise Sauce.

– Paprika.


Step 1:
Detach the oysters from the bottom shells and refrigerate until needed, collecting the liquor and storing the oysters in it. Scrub the bottom shells. Cover a sheet pan with a crumpled sheet of aluminum foil, and place the shells on it (the foil helps keep the oysters flat under the broiler).

Step 2:
Twenty minutes before serving, put the shells in the oven and turn the oven to 275°F.

Step 3:
In a saucepan, bring about 2 quarts water to a boil and stir in the spinach leaves. As soon as they wilt, after about 15 seconds, drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Squeeze out the excess liquid.

Step 4:
Ten minutes before serving, in a small saucepan, boil the cream for about 3 minutes, or until it is very thick—almost to the point of separation. Season with salt and pepper. Add the spinach and stir over medium heat until heated through.

Step 5:
Put the oysters and their liquor in a small saucepan over medium heat. When froth begins to form around the edges, lightly swirl the pan on the burner to cook the oysters evenly. They should curl around the edges. Remove the oysters from the liquid with a slotted spoon and place them on a clean kitchen towel. Fold over the towel, or place another towel on top, so that any grit attached to the oysters clings to the towel.

Step 6:
In a small sauté pan or skillet, cook the curry powder in the butter over medium heat for about 1 minute, or until it smells fragrant. Stir the curry mixture into the hollandaise.

Step 7:
Preheat the broiler. Place a small spoonful of spinach into each oyster shell and place an oyster on top. Spoon a generous tablespoon of hollandaise over each oyster. Slide the oysters under the broiler and broil for about 1 minute, or until the sauce bubbles and is lightly browned. Sprinkle with paprika and serve right away.

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