New Orleans Poached Oysters in Pernod Cream and Fried Spinach
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 8 ounces fresh spinach, rinsed, stemmed, and patted dry
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, in all
- 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, in all
- l/4 cup minced shallots
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1/3 cup (packed) chopped fennel, leaves and bulb
- 1 teaspoon white pepper, in all
- 1/2 cup Pernod
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 24 large freshly shucked oysters, with their liquor
- 2 teaspoons Creole Seasoning
- 4 fresh fennel sprigs
1. Preheat the oven to 250°F.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. When the oil is hot, add about one-third of the spinach and lightly stir-fry until crisp, for about 1 minute. Drain the spinach on paper towels. Repeat in 2 more batches. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Keep warm on a baking sheet in the oven.
3. Melt 1 teaspoon of the butter in another large skillet over high heat. When the butter sizzles, add the shallots, garlic, fennel, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are translucent, for about 2 minutes.
4. Remove the skillet from the stove. Holding it at a distance from the burner, add the Pernod. Carefully set the skillet back on the burner, keeping your face away; the Pernod should flame. If it doesn't, don't worry, just continue to cook it in the same way: Simmer for 1 minute, whisk in the cream, and cook for 2 minutes.
5. Reduce the heat to medium. Fold in the oysters, with their liquor, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook just until the edges of the oysters begin to curl, for about 2 or 3 minutes, depending on their size. Remove immediately from the heat.
Serve, garnished with fennel sprigs, if desired.