Oysters Rockefeller Gratin
from Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy
1 quart fresh, shucked oysters
6 tablespoons unsalted butter plus a little more for the topping
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
2 shallots, chopped (If you can't find shallots, you can also use scallions or diced sweet onion)
4 cups fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup Pernod
Salt and pepper, to taste
Tabasco sauce to taste
1 cup Mornay sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Prepare Mornay sauce and set aside.

Drain oysters into a large bowl, straining and reserving the liquor. Set aside.

Melt butter in a skillet. Saute the garlic for a few minutes to infuse the butter. Place the panko in a small bowl and add half of the garlic butter, olive oil, Parmesan, parsley and tarragon. Set aside.

Add the shallots and spinach to the remaining garlic butter in the skillet and saute for about 3-4 minutes, until the spinach wilts. Deglaze the pan with the Pernod, scraping up any brown bits. Season with salt and pepper and allow the mixture to cook down for a few minutes. Add to the oysters.

Gently mix the Mornay sauce into the oyster mixture. Add a few dashes of the Tabasco sauce. Add more salt and pepper, if needed.

Transfer the oyster mixture to a baking dish and sprinkle the panko mixture all over the top. Dot with small bits of plain butter.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until the top is browned and the oyster mixture is bubbly.

Mornay Sauce

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk, warmed
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese (You can use any Swiss cheese if you can't get Gruyere.)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup half-and-half
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten with the half and half

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat and whisk in flour. Cook for a minute or two until the flour just starts to color.

Slowly whisk in milk and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer and continue cooking 2-3 minutes, until sauce thickens.

Stir in the cheese and blend well.

Add egg yolk mixture and blend well.

Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.