This creamy, elegant dish (from New Orleans’s Commander’s Palace) can be made ahead of time and brought out as a first dinner course. The secret to its refined richness is a splash of anise spirit, such as pastis or even the intensely aromatic absinthe.
- 1 (9″ x 11″) sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed and chilled
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp. water
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 6 slices bacon, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 3⁄4 cup absinthe or pastis
- 20 medium oysters, such as bluepoints, shucked (1/3 cup of the liquor reserved)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 (9-oz.) package frozen artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
- 1⁄4 cup finely chopped tarragon
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Heat oven to 400°. Using a 3″ cookie cutter, cut 4 circles from the puff pastry. Transfer puff pastry circles to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and brush each circle with egg mixture. Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes; set puff pastry tops aside.
- Melt butter in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 12 minutes. Add the garlic and shallots and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Remove pan from heat; add absinthe or pastis. Return saucepan to the heat and cook until the liquid has almost evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the oyster liquor and cream and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cream has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.
- Add oysters, artichokes, and tarragon to the reduced cream mixture and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the oysters’ edges begin to curl, about 2 minutes. Divide the oyster stew between four 6-oz. ramekins or bowls and top each with a puff pastry circle.