While a freshly shucked oyster topped with lemon and black pepper and served with a sip of crisp MCC may bring to mind thoughts of summertime seaside holidays, these molluscs are actually at their tastiest during the cooler months.
Farmed oysters are at their plumpest and most delicious in winter as strong ocean currents regularly bring up nutrients from the depths, nourishing the oysters and keeping them clean. A treat for any season, oysters are just as tasty when cooked – especially into this oyster gratin – a decadent alternative to fresh oysters, ideal for colder evenings. The perfect MCC for food, Krone Kaaimansgat Blanc de Blancs pairs beautifully with the oysters thanks to its steely acidity, while the lingering white-fruited chardonnay notes break the richness provided by the Parmesan.
The result is ultimately the most decadent way to enjoy oysters.
16-20 fresh oysters
4 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons cake flour
500ml of cream
2 small cloves of garlic, crushed
300ml grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for topping
2 tablespoons flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
2ml ground nutmeg
Coarse ground sea salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 220°C. Set a steamer over a pot of boiling water and steam the oysters on high for 10 minutes. This will cook them slightly and make them easier to shuck. Shuck each oyster and remove from its shell. Set aside.
For the bechamel, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the flour and then pour in the cream and whisk the mixture until smooth and thickened. Remove the sauce from the heat and add in the garlic, cheese and parsley. Stir until combined and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour a little of the warm sauce into an ovenproof dish, coating the base. Arrange the steamed oysters in the dish and pour over the rest of the bechamel.
Sprinkle a generous amount of grated Parmesan over the top off the dish and bake in a preheated 220°C oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbling. Serve the oysters immediately with crusty bread and chilled glasses of Krone Kaaimansgat Blanc de Blancs MCC.