Oysters “Balotelli”

with crispy pancetta + spinach

Taking Requests S2_12_14_2015_1


4 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/8 in dice

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 shallots, chopped

1 garlic clove, sliced

3 cups baby spinach

2 tablespoons sambuca

¼ cup white wine

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 chopped scallion

½ cup panko bread crumbs (or homemade)

1 tablespoon Louisiana-style hot sauce, such as Crystal

3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1 dozen oysters, on the half shell with juices reserved

Rock salt, about 2 cups

Lemon wedges, for garnish


Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.


Render pancetta in a skillet over medium-low heat until almost crisp, then fish out the pancetta add to a mixing bowl.


Reserve the rendered pancetta fat in the pan and add butter over medium heat. Slice the shallots into thin rounds and to the skillet along with the sliced garlic and a pinch of salt. Sweat the shallots and garlic, but do not allow them to brown.


Add the spinach leaves and toss to combine with the garlic and shallots. Cook for about 3 minutes, until the spinach wilts. Meanwhile, chop the scallions: cut the white part of the scallions into a 1/4-inch dice, and finely slice the green parts.


Add the white scallions to the pan and cook along with the spinach. Deglaze the pan with the sambuca and wine. Season with salt and pepper, cook for a couple more minutes to burn off the alcohol, then remove from heat and set aside.


Add the thinly-sliced green scallions to the bowl with the pancetta and mix in the panko breadcrumbs, hot sauce, Parmigiano, oyster juices and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.


On an oven-proof pan such as a pizza pan or cookie sheet, spread rock salt in an even layer to create a base for the oysters. Lay the oysters out on the pan, nestling them slightly in the rock salt so they sit upright like bowls and don’t fall over. Spoon 1 heaping spoonful of the spinach mixture on each oyster, followed by about a teaspoon of the bread crumb mixture.


Bake the oysters in the oven for 3 minutes until they are bubbly-hot and the breadcrumbs are beginning to get crisp and toasty. Remove and serve with lemon wedges and more hot sauce.


Oysters can be eaten immediately, or at room temperature within an hour of being cooked.


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