Eating good food on the road can be challenging. Oftentimes we’re drawn to those stops right off the freeway, with little time to search out the local favorite. Between fast food and chain restaurants, we find ourselves stuck choosing between a bad burger or a greasy taco. Instead, I decided to dine in, in my car, and created Golden Gate Oysters – Baked Oysters on a bed of Spinach | Bacon | Fennel | Stout Cream Sauce that was cooking as I was driving and done when I got to my first destination. Let me fill you in on the story!
On a recent trip, I found myself walking into a truck stop—one with a huge travel center attached to the mini-mart. Cruising the aisles, I found 12-volt heaven tucked between tortilla chips and CB radios! This is where I discovered cooking appliances that simply plug straight into the car’s cigarette lighter (12 volts): popcorn makers, skillets, pizza ovens, portable refrigerators, Crock-pots, and the holy grail, the 12 Volt Lunch Box Stove. This modified lunch box heats to 300°F | 149°C, is lightweight and simple to use—just plug it in and it gets hot.
So, when we talk about cooking on the road, gone are the days of aluminum foil wrapped hot dogs cooked directly on the engine block. With this portable stove, a little imagination and forethought, you can enjoy great bière cuisine | cooking with beer on the road for that summer vacation, a day trip to the beach, or a day-long pub crawl with friends.
This month I took the opportunity to fire up my portable stove and visit four Northern California breweries and pubs. For each stop, I created a recipe that would pair nicely with the beers on tap and sat down to visit with the head brewers.
First Stop:21st Amendment Brewery and Restaurant in San Francisco. I showed up with my hot box and sat down to meet with brewmaster Shaun O’Sullivan. Lifting the lid, an incredible aroma filled the table. Golden Gate Oysters – Baked Oysters on a bed of Spinach | Bacon | Fennel | Stout Cream Sauce quaffed around us. Shaun poured some of his annual Oyster Stout and we started slurping down the bivalves. “This just adds another facet to the food, beer, culinary enjoyment, and the idea that you can drive somewhere on a pub crawl and throw something together in that little oven and enjoy it upon arriving at your destination is another great opportunity to enjoy great food and beer.” As he tasted the baked oysters, Shaun said smiling, “I thought there were sweet and creamy elements of the oysters that went really well with the subtle roasty, slightly salty quality of the Oyster Stout.”
Second Stop: Shepherd’s Pie
Third Stop:Foil-Packed Salmon, Steamed in Beer
Fourth Stop: Stuffed Mushrooms With Lamb and Morels
In a sauté pan over low heat, add bacon and render the fat, stirring occasionally for 8 minutes. Once the bacon is crispy, remove it from the pan setting aside in a bowl. In the remaining melted fat, add shallots and fennel, cooking for 10 minutes on low heat. Add the chopped spinach, cream, and Stout to the pan, mixing to wilt the spinach, about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let the mixture cool.
To shuck the oysters, take a dish towel and hold an oyster in your hand, with the bowl of the oyster in your palm. Taking an oyster knife, slip the tip between the shells just in front of the hinge. Twist the blade to open the shell wider. Slide the edge of the knife forward to cut the muscle that holds the two shells together. Be careful not to bring shell debris into the oyster. This may take some practice. Cut the oyster meat from the shell and place it into a bowl. Repeat with remaining oysters. Learn how to shuck an oyster with this video
Fill the oyster shell with a tablespoon of the spinach mixture, placing one oyster on top. Repeat with remaining oysters. Refrigerate until ready to cook. This can be made 12 hours in advance.
Oyster Cooking Directions:
Line the inside of the RoadPro 12-Volt Portable Stove, Black with aluminum foil. Take a second piece of aluminum foil and crinkle it up, keeping it in a rectangle shape. Place this piece on top of the lining. Take each stuffed shell and set firmly onto the crinkled foil, pressing down to keep each shell level. Close the oven and lock the lid. Plug into the cigarette lighter and cook for 25 minutes. The smell of the oysters will just start to escape the box when they are done.
In a conventional oven, roast at 400°F | 204°C for 8 minutes. Serve hot.
More Oyster Recipes:
Fresh Oysters with 'Iced' Oatmeal Stout Mignonette Sauce
Golden Gate Oysters - Baked Oysters on a bed of Spinach | Bacon | Fennel | Stout Cream Sauce