2 leaves gelatine
1 teaspoon sugar
100ml manzanilla sherry
oil for frying
4 slices pancetta
2 dozen Pacific oysters in the half shell
1 tablespoon chopped chives

Oysters are a special-occasion treat and while they are often at their best in winter, when they are full-flavoured and meaty, I do like Pacific oysters up until Christmas. Mahurangi Oysters is the family-run operation of Lisa and Andrew Hay, who sell oysters from April through to December and in the lead up to Christmas their oysters are fat and creamy and a more mellow option for those who are a little hesitant.

I can’t bear to cook oysters so they are most often served raw, but I do on occasion like a little topping such as a jelly and if it is paired with a crisp crumb of something salty that, too, is a delight. A crisp, flinty and dry sherry such as manzanilla is a delicious combination with oysters and that is what I recommend to use here.

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1.Soak the gelatine in some cold water for 5 minutes to soften.
2.Put 50ml of water and the sugar in a small saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer until the sugar has dissolved.
3.Squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine and add to the pan stirring until it dissolves.
4.Remove from the heat, add the sherry to the mix, combine well and then pour into a small deep container.
5.Cool and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours or until set.
6.Heat a little oil in a frying pan and add the pancetta.
7.Cook until crisp and drain on paper towels.
8.Crumble into pieces.
9.When ready to serve, shuck the oysters and put onto a bed of ice.
10.Cut the jelly into small cubes, put a few on each oyster, scatter with the pancetta and the chives.
11.Serve with more chilled manzanilla.

Recipes & food styling Ginny Grant / Photography Aaron McLean / Styling Fiona Lascelles

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