Huitres Gratinées au Roquefort “Société”
Region: France, Languedoc
Category: Antipasto, Meze, Tapas, and Hors d'Oeuvres
Difficulty: Easy and Quick
When I was researching A Mediterranean Feast a number of French chefs in Languedoc helped out with explanations of the local cuisine and some provided recipes. In the end, the book I was writing was not about restaurant cooking, but I held onto the recipes because they were intriguing. This recipe was provided to me by Chef Patrick Lenfant, then of the Grand Hotel in Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, the home of Roquefort cheese. I’ve adapted the recipe slightly to make it more appropriate to an appetizer you might serve at home. In the restaurant the serve the oysters in the shells on a bed of rock salt and endive leaves.
Yield: Makes 4 servings
Preparation Time: 2 hours
24 oysters, very well cleaned
1 tablespoon baking soda
¾ cup dry sherry
3 tablespoons heavy cream
7 ounces Roquefort cheese
6 egg yolks
Juice from one lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Soak the oysters in cold water with a tablespoon of baking soda for 1 to 2 hours.
2. Preheat the broiler.
3. In a large casserole, place all the oysters, cover, and turn the heat to medium until all the oysters are just open enough to pry them open further, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the oysters and strain the oyster juice remaining in the casserole. Remove the oysters from the shell, saving the less uneven half of the shell and reserving the oysters. Transfer the oyster juice to a smaller saucepan. Add the sherry to the strained oyster juice and reduce by three-quarter’s over medium-high heat. Set aside.
4. In a bowl, stir together the cream, Roquefort, egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and blend well so it is nearly smooth. Pour into a saucepan and simmer for 2 minutes, shaking constantly, until smooth. Combine the cheese sauce with the oyster sauce.
5. Place the reserved shells on 4 oven-proof plates, 6 to each. Place an oyster on each shell and spoon a generous amount of sauce over each oyster. Place under the broiler, about 5 inches from the heat source, until slightly brown on top, 1 to 2 minutes, but check. Serve hot.