Prep 1 hr 15 mins
Cook 20 mins
A New Orleans classic; originally served at Antoine’s
- 3 lbs rock salt (or other coarse salt)
- 24 oysters, in the shell
- 1⁄2 lb unsalted butter
- 1 medium celery, finely chopped
- 1⁄2 small fennel bulb, finely chopped
- 1⁄3 cup chopped scallion
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 cups loosely packed coarsely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 cups loosely packed watercress
- 3 -4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed
- kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons louisiana hot sauce
- 2 tablespoons Pernod
- 1⁄2 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
- lemon wedge
- Divide half the rock salt between 4 dinner plates, each large enough to hold 6 oysters.
- Distribute the salt evenly on each plate (this is to provide an attractive base on which the curved oyster shells can evenly rest).
- Test with an oyster, placing the more deeply curved shell side down.
- If you need more salt to support the shells, add it; set plates aside.
- Now, divided the remaining salt between two roasting pans, each large enough to hold a dozen oysters in one layer.
- Distribute the salt as you did for the plates (if you run out of salt, you can use dried beans or lightly crumpled foil in the pans).
- Open the top, flat side of the oyster (the deeply curved shell should be on the bottom).
- Retain in each shell as much of the oyster liquor as possible; discard the top shell and free each oyster from its muscle.
- Transfer each oyster in its bottom shell to the salt-lined roasting pans.
- Arrange the oven racks to accommodate both roasting pans and preheat oven to 400°.
- In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat; when the foam begins to subside, add the celery, fennel, scallions, garlic, parsley, watercress, thyme, and a large pinch of kosher salt; cook mixture for 2 minutes, stirring to incorporate ingredients.
- Take pan off heat and transfer mixture to a blender; to blender also add hot sauce, Pernod, a few grindings of pepper, and the bread crumbs.
- Puree the mixture for 2 minutes or until it is uniformly green in color and the texture of a thick milkshake; transfer mixture to a small bowl.
- Place 2 teaspoons puree mixture on top of each oyster if they are medium-size (a little more if they are larger, a little less if they are smaller).
- The mixture should almost, but not quite cover the meat of the oyster.
- Place the roasting pans with the oysters in the oven; cook about 20 minutes or until there is a lively bubbling at the edges of the oysters.
- If your oven has hot spots, rotate the pans 180° after 10 minutes (and if your roasting pans are on different levels, after 10 minutes carefully reverse the bottom and top pans to ensure even cooking).
- When the oysters are done, allow them to cool for 2 minutes, then, wearing rubber gloves or with the help of a large spoon, carefully transfer 6 oysters to each of the salt-line plates; garnish each with a lemon wedge and serve immediately.
- **Alternative cooking method: preheat broiler; place one pan under the broiler until the oysters are bubbling on top, about 3-5 minutes; repeat with the second pan; proceed as directed.