Sunday, September 19, 2010

Oysters with a Peach Champagne Mignonette

Clare and I love fresh oysters. Our favorites are usually Chinoteagues, which come from the Chesapeake Bay. However, we will eat any oysters that we can get our hands on.  A while back, we went to Birch and Barley, a restaurant known -- along with the bar Churchkey on the second floor -- for its craft beers.  However, we saw that there were fresh oysters on the menu.  We ordered the oysters and they were served with a Bloody Mary mignonette.  We went back to Birch and Barley and had the oysters again, only to have them served with a different mignonette. Both mignonettes were very good and it provided different flavors that worked well with the briny flavors of the oysters.

So, I decided to try my own hand at making a mignonette.  This one differs from a traditional mignonette because I did not use any vinegar.  The reason is that I felt the Champagne offered enough of a tart taste that the addition of vinegar would result in an off-taste.  This mignonette is really simple to make.  (Indeed, it takes longer to shuck the oysters than it does to make the recipe).  For this recipe, we used Blue Point oysters, which are available at Whole Foods in Silver Spring, Maryland.

A Chef Bolek Original
Serves 2

One dozen oysters, any variety
1/2 peach, peeled and diced finely
1 scallion, diced finely
1/2 to 3/4 cup of Champagne

Make the mignonette first.  Dice the peach finely and make sure to incorporate all of the peach, including the reddish part by the pit, which provides a little color for the mignonette.  Mix in the scallions and the Champagne.  Set aside.

Shuck the oysters.  Rinse each oyster.  Only use an oyster knife, which you can get at a grocery store, Williams & Sonoma or Sur La Table.  Oysters have an opening in the back.  Work the tip of the knife into that opening and begin to turn the knife to each side, working to loosen the top shell.  Once you can get enough of the knife into the oyster, Begin to push down to lift up the shell. Once the top shell is separated, use the knife to make sure the oyster is separated from the top shell.  Use the knife to separate the oyster from the rest of the shell.  There is a muscle underneath the oyster that connects to the bottom part of the shell.  Cut that muscle.  Rinse the oyster if necessary.

Fill a bowl with crushed ice.  Spoon the mignonette onto each oyster.  Serve the oysters over the crushed ice.


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