Oysters Baked with a Champagne Sabayon

Makes 36 hors d’oeuvres

  • 3 each egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice, fresh squeezed
  • 3/4 cup champagne or sparkling wine, reduced to 1/3 cup
  • 3 sticks butter, unsalted, melted and warm
  • To taste salt & pepper
  • 36 each oysters, shucked and on the half-shell
  • 3# rock salt
  • 1 ounce caviar (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons chives, snipped (optional)
  • 4 cups arugula
  • 8 each thin slices of pancetta, baked crisp and crumbled large (optional)

Directions

  1. Place the egg yolks, lemon juice and the reduced champagne in a medium sized mixing bowl and whisk over a pot of simmering water for 5 – 7 minutes until the sauce gets light and airy and begins to thicken. Still over the heat, whisk in the warm melted butter slowly, using only the “clarified” butter on the top and not the milk solids and liquid that is on the bottom. This should give you a thick, creamy “sabayon” or “hollandaise” type sauce. Taste and season with salt & pepper.
  2. Cook the arugula covered in a sauté pan with a few drops of water over medium heat until it wilts. Remove from the pan, squeeze very dry and allow to cook to room temperature.
  3. Pour the rock salt into a baking sheet and place in a pre-heated oven (at 450 degrees) for 5 minutes to warm the rock salt. Remove the baking sheet with the rock salt from the oven and set the bottom shells in the rock salt (this keeps them from tipping while baking). Place a teaspoon of cooked arugula in each shell and a shucked oyster on top of each. Spoon enough “sabayon” over each oyster to cover it completely.
  4. Return the baking sheet with the oysters to the oven and bake for 6 – 8 minutes or until the top of the sabayon starts to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and top each “sabayon-glazed” oyster with either some caviar and snipped chives or some warm, crumbled, crisp pancetta.
  5. Serve immediately with your favorite sparkling wine.

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