This is a delicious version of the classic oyster dish that never goes out of style. The oysters make a wonderful first course; a special favorite for the holidays, they're welcome any time of the year.
When you're shopping for the oysters, look for tightly shut specimens with a deep bottom shell, which will make filling them easier.
The spinach topping can be made up to 2 days in advance; keep it covered and refrigerated until you're ready to use it.
Earthbound Farm Organic Baby Spinach
(lightly packed) fresh flat leaf parsley (leaves only)
Pernod or Sambuca (optional)
panko (Japanese style) bread crumbs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh oysters in the shell
grated Parmesan cheese
Place the spinach and 1 tablespoon of water in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook until the spinach wilts. Set aside to cool. When it's cool enough to handle, squeeze out all the excess moisture.
Transfer the spinach to a food processor and add the scallions, parsley, and anchovies. Process until the greens are roughly chopped. Add the melted butter and process until the mixture forms a smooth purée, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Transfer the mixture to a clean bowl and stir in the Pernod, Worcestershire sauce, and panko crumbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you're making the filling ahead of time, you can cover and refrigerate it at this point for up to 2 days. Let the mixture return to room temperature before you open the oysters.
Place a layer of rock salt in a rimmed baking sheet to form a stable bed for the oysters. If you don't have rock salt, improvise by making small foil balls or using a bed of dried beans into which you can nestle the oysters to keep them from tipping.
Open the oysters and discard the flat-sided shell (usually the top half). Reserve any oyster liquor which collects in the bottom shell and add it to the spinach mixture. Arrange the oysters on the rock salt as you open them.
Place the oven rack about 6 inches below the broiler and preheat it on high. Place the oysters under the broiler for 2 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and spoon a generous dollop of the spinach mixture onto each oyster. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and place the oysters under the broiler again until the spinach is hot and the cheese browns, about 2 minutes. Serve hot.