Al Bersagliere has been welcoming guests since 1840, and Massimo Ferrari is confident the tradition will continue: his son is already working in the kitchen. Chef Ferrari’s appetizer is simple and direct with its big, Italian flavors: huge plump oysters wrapped with pancetta, sauteed, and served on seasoned greens. Garlic appears over and over as a flavor note. The chef uses a balsamic vinegar which has been aged 23 years.
- Olive Oil - 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup
- Garlic Cloves - 16, whole
- Oysters in the shell - 16, large
- Water - 1 cup
- Dry White Wine - 1 cup
- Pancetta - 16 slices
- Salt to taste
- Flat Parsley - 4 leaves, chopped fine
- Garlic Cloves - 8, minced
- Garlic Cloves - 4, halved
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil - 1-1/2 cups
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Aged Balsamic Vinegar - 4 tablespoons
- Mache (Lamb’s Lettuce) - 2 cups
- Cherry Tomatoes - 8, quartered
- Herb-Infused Olive Oil - 1/4 cup
Heat 1/2 cup of the olive oil in a large saute pan or saucepan over medium-high heat and add the garlic cloves. Saute until they just begins to color. Add the oysters, water, and wine; cover with foil and steam until the oysters open, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the oysters carefully, take them out of the shells, and place them on paper towels to blot excess water.
Spread the pancetta on a work surface and sprinkle with salt, chopped parsley, and minced garlic. Place an oyster at the end of each slice and roll up in the pancetta, creating a packet.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a large saute pan or skillet over medium heat and add the garlic halves. Place the wrapped oysters in the pan, seam-side down, and saute until browned on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Spoon off excess fat as it renders from the pancetta. When the oyster packets are browned, remove with tongs and drain on paper towels.
To prepare the vinaigrette: Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, and seasonings in a non-aluminum bowl and whisk or process with a stick blender until emulsified. Add the balsamic vinegar and process to blend.
To serve: Place a 5-inch steel ring on each serving plate. Mound mache in the ring and drizzle with vinaigrette. Divide the wrapped oysters among the plates and arrange on the greens. Garnish around the rings with cherry tomatoes. Lift the rings. Dot infused oil between the tomato quarters.