Roasted Oysters with Wild Mushrooms and Pancetta Ragout
Pancetta and mushrooms complement oysters roasted and served in the shell. The pancetta and mushroom topping is cooked down, then seasoned with herbs. If you use reconstituted dried mushrooms in your mushroom mix, save the soaking water and add it to the chicken stock to cook the mushrooms.
- Unsalted Butter - 1/4 cup, melted
- Pancetta - 1/3 pound, cut in small dice
- Shallots - 3 large, peeled and finely chopped
- Assorted Wild and Exotic Mushrooms - 2 pounds, uch as morels, crimini, chanterelles, shiitakes, and oyster mushrooms
- Chicken Stock - 1 cup
- Dry White Vermouth - 1/2 cup
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1 cup
- Thyme Leaves - 3 tablespoons, chopped, fresh lemon
- Chives - 3 tablespoons, chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper - 1 teaspoon
- Oysters - 2 dozen, well washed
- Rock Salt - 2 pounds
- Potatoes - 2 cups, mashed
- Tarragon - 4 sprigs
- Chives - 8, minced
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Spread rock salt in a baking pan to form a bed for the oysters.
Remove any hard fibrous stems from the mushrooms. Wash morels carefully to remove all sand and dirt. Brush other mushrooms with a damp cloth or mushroom brush to remove any dirt. Cut or tear the mushrooms in half or quarters, depending on size.
Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Put the pancetta in the boiling water and blanch for 20 to 30 seconds to remove excess salt. Drain and cool. When cool, cut the thin strips into thin julienne and set aside.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add the pancetta and cook for 2 minutes, then add the shallots to the rendered fat. Cook 1 minute. Lift out the pancetta and shallots with slotted spoon and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium and saute the mushrooms in the fat, tossing to cook evenly. Cook the mushrooms according to how much time they need, beginning with crimini and ending with morels. Remove each variety as soon as it is cooked and slightly translucent, draining them on paper towels. The cooking will average 2 to 3 minutes per variety. When all the mushrooms are cooked, combine them in the skillet. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until nearly all juices have evaporated. Add the vermouth and cook 1 minute. Add the cream, pancetta, and shallots. Heat the cream until just below boiling; it should be slightly reduced and thickened to hold the mixture together. Season with the herbs, salt, and pepper.
While the stock is reducing, place the unopened oysters, round shell down, on the bed of rock salt. Place the oysters in the hot oven and roast for 3 to 4 minutes, until the shells begin to open. Discard any which do not open.
To serve: Remove the tops of the oysters. Pipe or spoon 6 small dots of mashed potatoes on each serving plate, spacing them to allow room for the oyster shells. Anchor the bottom of a shell with its oyster and liquor on each mashed potato dot. Spoon some of the mushroom ragout onto each oyster. Garnish with herb sprigs; sprinkle with chives.