- 4 ounces sliced bacon, cut into 1/2-inch strips
- 1 bulb fennel (about 1 pound), halved and cored
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup finely diced shallot
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 1/3 cup Herbsaint or Pernod liqueur
- 1 egg yolk
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups canola, grapeseed, or other vegetable oil
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 12 medium-size shucked oysters (about 8 ounces)
- 8 cups (about 10 ounces) fresh arugula or spinach, large stems removed, leaves rinsed and spun dry
- 1 small head frisee, rinsed, core removed, leaves pulled apart (about 2 cups)
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 apple, cored and thinly sliced or julienned
Cook the bacon in a small saute pan over medium-high heat until it is crispy, 7 to 9 minutes. Drain, and set the bacon aside on paper towels to cool. Crumble the cooled bacon, and set it aside.
Thinly slice one half of the fennel bulb on a mandoline, or with a sharp knife, and set it in a small bowl. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and set it aside for 20 minutes. Then rinse the fennel well under cool water, pat it dry, and cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Cut the remaining fennel into small dice. Heat the olive oil in a 10-inch saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the diced fennel, shallot, garlic, 1/2 teaspon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the white pepper. Cook until tender, stirring as necessary, about 3 minutes. Carefully add the Herbsaint to the pan and cook until the liquid has been absorbed, 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside to cool for 5 minutes.
Combine the egg yolk, water, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon white pepper, and the sauteed fennel in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. While the machine is still running, add 1 cup of the canola oil in a thin, steady stream until incorporated. Transfer the dressing to a small container, cover, and refrigerate. (If desired, the dressing can be thinned to your liking with additional water.)
In a shallow pan, stir together the cornmeal, 2 teaspoons salt, the black pepper, and the cayenne. Dredge each oyster in the cornmeal mixture and set them aside.
Heat the remaining 1/2 cup vegetable oil in a 12-inch saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the oysters and cook until they are golden and the centers are set, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.
To assemble the salad, combine the arugula, frisee, reserved sliced fennel, reserved bacon, Parmesan, and apple in a large mixing bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the dressing (or more if desired), and toss gently to combine. Divide the salad among four to six serving plates. Divide the oysters among the salads, and serve immediately.
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