A Baked Oyster Concoction
by Nelson Bryant
Lightly scrub oysters clean in cold water. Open and save them and their liquid in a bowl. When that is done, arrange the bottom halves of the shells (the halves that are cupped) on a baking sheet and place a shucked oyster in each, leaving nothing but liquid in the bowl. To get rid of the tiny bits of shell and other debris in the bottom of the bowl, gently pour the liquid into another container. You can use a fine strainer for this, but it isn’t really necessary.
In yet another bowl, put one teaspoon each of the following ingredients for each oyster: Italian style bread crumbs (I happen to use Progresso); a finely-chopped mix of watercress and spinach (you can also use spinach or parsley alone); melted butter. Add a good dash of black pepper and blend. Slowly add the oyster liquor to this until you have a wet, but not runny, mixture, and put equal amounts of it over each shellcradled oyster.
Sprinkle a little grated Parmesan cheese over each oyster and bake for five minutes or a bit more at 450º. A mild Parmesan that you have grated yourself seems to work best for this, but if you use a pre-grated product, be very stingy with the amount you put over each oyster—perhaps a quarter of a teaspoon—because the added ingredients, including salt, in some pre-grated cheeses, tend to overwhelm the oyster’s delicate flavor.