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Oyster & Artichoke Gratin

Category: Main Courses
Serving Size: 6 generous appetizers or 6 small main dishes

  • 3 cups unseasoned fine, dry breadcrumbs
  • 3 cups finely chopped fresh, blanched artichoke hearts (If fresh artichoke hearts are not available, frozen or canned ones may be used.)
  • 3/4 cup plus 6 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley leaves, divided
  • 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 16 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 36 large shucked oysters

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

In a very large mixing bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with the artichokes, ¾ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, garlic, 1 tablespoon parsley, Creole seasoning, pepper, kosher salt and 10 tablespoons olive oil. Thoroughly mix by hand until the mixture resembles graham-cracker crumbs, breaking up the artichoke pieces into smaller bits as you mix. Set aside momentarily.

Heat a heavy 12-inch sauté pan over high heat for one minute, then quickly drain the liquor from the oysters (they should still be very wet) and add the oysters in a single layer to the pan. Cook just until the edges curl, about one minute. Do not overcook.

Using tongs, transfer 6 oysters, drained a few seconds, to each baking dish in a single layer. If there is more than just a teaspoon or so of the oyster liquor in the dish, drain off the liquid.

Gradually add an equal amount of the artichoke mixture to each of the six baking dishes, patting the mixture into the dish fairly firmly so all of it will fit.

Place the filled dishes on 1 or more rimmed baking sheets and bake them, uncovered, until the tops are browned with a few tiny spots of charred crispness, five to 10 minutes. Remove the baking sheets from the oven momentarily, leaving the oven set at 425°.

Over the top of each gratin evenly sprinkle 1 tablespoon Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, then drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over the top, making sure the edges get a few more drops of oil than the rest of the surface (since the edges dry out more than the center). It is not necessary to moisten all the dry cheese you have just added.

Return the baking sheet(s) to the oven and continue baking the gratins until they bubble around the edges, three to five minutes more. Remove them from the oven.

Let the gratins sit in their baking dishes for five minutes to allow them to cool a bit. Garnish the tops with a light sprinkle of the remaining parsley. When they’re ready to eat, place each gratin in its baking dish on a dinner plate and serve.

 

Blanched Artichokes

  • 6 large green globe artichokes, rinsed well
  • 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
  • 4 lemons, halved
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 6 quarts water, or enough to cover the artichokes in the pot by 2 inches

In a 10-quart soup or stockpot, combine the artichokes, peppercorns, lemon halves and kosher salt. Add cool water to cover the artichokes by about 2 inches.

Weight down the artichokes with a heavy pot lid that is somewhat smaller than the simmering pot or some other object to keep the artichokes submerged during cooking. This will help to cook all of them evenly.

Turn on the heat and bring the water to a simmer. Continue simmering the artichokes, turning them over once or twice while they cook. After simmering for about 25 minutes, the artichoke leaves should detach easily when they are gently pulled.

Once the leaves come off easily, drain the artichokes and set them aside to cool.

If you will be using the artichokes whole, they are now ready for serving or refrigeration.

If you will be using the separated bottoms and leaves, continue to next step.

Once the artichokes have cooled, pull all of the leaves from the stems, as well as those surrounding the disk-like bottom. Discard the small purple-tipped leaves and the leaves attached to the hearts. (Save the large leaves if you’ll be using them for dipping into clarified butter or mayonnaise-based dipping sauces.)
Remove and discard the round fuzzy “choke” from the tops of the artichoke hearts. Slice off the hearts at the point where they join the stems. The hearts are now ready to use whole.

 


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