Updated: February 3, 2013 6:06AM
Maybe enjoying the first few days of 2013 has some merit.
While the holiday season has a certain magic to it, that same glamour can be recreated at home — even after the magic is over.
A homemade meal to celebrate New Year’s week has all of the allure of a prix fixe menu at a restaurant, plus a splash of personality. Homespun recipes with fresh ingredients are much appreciated by guests.
New Year’s custom calls for the consumption of seven lucky foods during those first few days — fish being the easiest of the seven to flaunt as the star of a dish. Oysters happen to be packaged with their own string of good luck, so preparing a spread of these tasty gourmet delicacies is the perfect way to celebrate the holiday at your house with flair.
These baked oysters with bread crumbs and garlic make a delicious appetizer or a main course. Quick to prepare, this recipe uses few ingredients at very little cost. The taste, however, will rival anything from a prix fixe menu. Sizzling in a hot medley of butter and parmesan cheese, freshly shucked oysters shed their fishy flavor and embrace the tastes of old Italy.
A good 15 minutes in the oven and this quick dish is ready to serve. Simple, yet classy, baked oysters will not only represent the fish dish for your good-luck new year, but also recreate all of the charm of a catered celebration at the tips of your fingers.
with Bread Crumbs and Garlic
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup fresh, white bread crumbs (made from crusty European bread)
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 dozen fresh oysters, shucked or defrosted frozen oysters
3 tablespoons freshly grated imported Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter, cut in tiny pieces
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Choose an ovenproof platter or a shallow baking-and-serving dish that is just large enough to hold the oysters in one layer. Butter generously.
In a heavy 6- to 8-inch skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over moderate heat. When the foam subsides, add the fresh, white bread crumbs and the garlic, and toss them in the butter for 2 or 3 minutes, or until they are crisp and golden. Stir in the finely chopped parsley. Spread about 2/3 cup of the bread-crumb mixture in the bottom of the buttered baking dish, and arrange the oysters over it in one layer. Mix the rest of the bread-crumb mixture with the grated cheese and spread the combination on the oysters. Dot the top with the tiny bits of butter.
Bake the oyster in the top third of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the crumbs are golden and the juices in the dish are bubbling. Serve at once, either as a main course or as an appetizer.
Source: “The Cooking of Italy” by Waverley Root, Time-Life Books, 1968.