Sunday, December 29, 2013

Oyster Spinach Artichoke "Dip"

Oysters with a cracker crust bake on a bed of nontraditional spinach-artichoke "dip."  For two oyster lovers, this is a meal in itself served with crusty bread or buttered linguinni.  It is also an elegant hot buffet item that will serve several guests or a first course portion for four at a formal New Year's dinner.  

Oyster Spinach Artichoke "Dip"
Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a first course, 6-8 as a dip

Ingredients
2 bags fresh spinach
1 can quartered artichokes, drained
2 8-oz containers freshly chucked oysters
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sour cream
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
6 butter crackers (like Ritz brand)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
optional: 2-3 slices cooked bacon for garnish

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F. Lightly oil two pie plates or four oven proof dishes.
  2. Steam spinach 2 minutes. (Use the microwave or a stove-top steaming basket over an inch of water.  Not water needed for the microwave.)  Remove spinach to a chopping board and chop.  Allow any excess water to drain.  
  3. Mix spinach with mayonnaise, sour cream, cheese, dill, salt and pepper.  Taste for seasoning. 
  4. Drain liquid from canned artichokes and arrange over spinach.
  5. Divide spinach among baking dishes.
  6. Drain liquor from oysters (reserve or freeze for another use) and place each oyster alongside artichokes, alternating to create a nice pattern.  
  7. Crush crackers finely and sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of ground crackers over each oyster.  Dot oysters with butter.  
  8. Bake 12-15 minutes oat 375˚F until oysters are cooked through and crackers crumbs are lightly browned.  
  9. Serve with more crackers, warm pita triangles or baguette slices.  Set out a serving spoon for guests to spoon "dip" onto bread. 
Do ahead notes: the recipe can be prepared through step 6 several hours ahead.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  When ready to bake, remove from refrigerator.  Preheat oven while you take care of step 7.  Bake 5 minutes longer to ensure spinach and oysters heat through.