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Valentine’s oyster recipe and the wines of the month

PUBLISHED: 11:16 04 February 2014 | UPDATED: 11:22 04 February 2014

Stuffed oysters

Stuffed oysters

Archant

Create an indulgent oyster gratin this Valentine’s Day

Ingredients - Serves 2

1 tbsp butter


2 rashers smoked streaky bacon, finely chopped


150ml double cream


25g walnuts, finely chopped


A few sprigs of dill, finely chopped


12 live oysters


A handful of breadcrumbs

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Method

1 Heat the butter in a frying pan and fry the bacon until crisp. Stir in the cream, walnuts, dill and a little freshly ground black pepper, then set aside.

2 To open the oysters, hold them with a clean tea towel, making sure your hand is protected. Insert an oyster-shucking knife into the hinge end, wiggling it until it slips in. Try to keep the knife flush with the top (flat) of the shell and draw the knife horizontally across to sever the muscle that attaches it. Discard the flat top shell and check for and remove any little broken bits of shell around the rim of the lower shell. Drain off any excess sea water.

3 Preheat the grill to its highest setting. Arrange the oysters on a baking tray or use a cupcake tin to keep them level. Spoon some of the cream mixture over each one then sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

4 Cook the oysters under the grill until the tops are golden brown and bubbling. Serve immediately.

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Find it in Hampshire

Oysters - Viviers, Portsmouth, 02392 753621, www.fishmarketportsmouth.co.uk

Bacon - Tatchbury Manor Farm, Winsor, 07786 697919

Double cream - Blackburn & Haynes, Headley, 01428 712155

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Susie Carter - Susie’s Kitchen

“Raw oysters, with their ultra-fresh ozone tang, used to be one of my favourite things to eat until I got ill at the oyster festival in Gujan Mestras a few years ago. Since then, however much I try to rekindle that love, the old enthusiasm just isn’t there. Cooked oysters, on the other hand, are a completely different story. There’s something about the smooth, creamy richness of oysters cooked in the half shell that feels absolutely decadent – perfect for dinner a deux on Valentine’s Day. Serve with plenty of crusty bread for mopping up the juices.”

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Wines of the month

2001 The Glenrothes - (Speyside, Scotland) £45

And to confound all expectation, a fantastic malt whisky. Citrus spice and black cherries with a whiff of oaky vanilla from the 12 years of ageing provide a dram that bulldozes all those that say whisky and oysters don’t mix. Chosen for its wonderful length and depth, the Vintage 2001 bottled in 2012 was selected from a variety of casks to deliver soft but stimulating and conversational properties. It is hugely satisfying and an excellent match for a stuffed oyster.

2012 Albariño, Pazo de Señoráns - (Rías Baixas, Spain) £16.95

First up we have an Albariño from the frighteningly fashionable, Pazo de Señoráns in Galicia located in the north western corner of the Iberian Peninsula. This area is known as the greenest of Spain with very high rainfall and constant sea fogs rolling in over the hills, which helps the grapes to retain crisp, mouth-watering acidity that will complement the oysters extraordinarily well.

2012 Pulenta Estate, Pinot Gris - (Mendoza, Argentina) £10.45

Argentina is our next stop. The vineyards of Alto Agrelo upon the southern side of the Mendoza River to be exact, and home to some of the country’s finest wine estates. Pulenta produces a wide variety of wines and none finer than its take on Pinot Gris. An Alsatian richness greets the nose, where flowers, fruit and a hint of natural sweetness with peach and flint are all in evidence. Its secret is the high altitudes, which results in a crisp acidity allied with complex flavours - marvellous.

***

Stephen George - Berry Bros. & Rudd

“Tomes have been written on the pairing of oysters and wine and most authorities tend to agree that French Chardonnay is the safest option. However, I laugh at safe and I personally like to live life on the edge. With that in mind, spurning convention and cocking a hat at accepted wisdom, I have, in cavalier fashion, plumped for three that complement oysters oh so well and yet challenge your perceptions.”

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