Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Oysters Bienville

Mmmm, oysters. I really see no point in cooking them at all; to me, if an oyster is good enough to be eaten raw, there's no sense in ruining it with heat. And if it's not good enough to eat raw, why are you eating it?

I didn't always feel that way. I'll be the first to admit that raw oysters can be a hurdle for a lot of people--after all, their consistency is remarkably similar to snot. I remember when I was a kid, watching my uncles eat raw Chesapeake Bay oysters by the quart and being totally grossed out. (It didn't help that sometimes they dispensed with manners entirely and just drank them out of the quart jar, like some form of particularly chunky moonshine.) So for the longest time I only ate oysters fried. And let's be honest, you could fry cardboard and it would taste good.

Then one day I ate a raw oyster and it realized that, consistency aside, it was actually pretty damned good.

So I picked up a pint of oysters the other day and decided to actually do something with them, rather than just sit down with a fork and a lemon wedge. I adapted this recipe from Cooking Up A Storm. Adaptations noted.

1/2 cup butter
1/4 lb mushrooms, chopped--I left these out, didn't have any
2 dozen oysters, with juice
rock salt--left this part out, too
1/4 cup chopped green onions--I used leeks instead
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
6 tablespoons flour
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup parsley
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 lb Parmesan
6 tablespoons bread crumbs
lemon wedges

Saute mushrooms in 2 T butter. [SEE ABOVE ABOUT NO MUSHROOMS.] Place the oysters in ramekins, 3 at a time, or individually on their half-shells, and place those on a bed of rock salt in a large dish. [I PLACED MINE IN RAMEKINS AND SET THOSE DIRECTLY IN A PYREX DISH.] Saute onions and garlic in remaining butter, [I USED ALL 6 TABLESPOONS HERE] add flour and stir. (Essentially you're making a white sauce.) Beat egg yolks with parsley and cream, stir into onion and flour mixture, blend well. Add 1 cup oyster juice (or milk, or chicken broth) [I USED A LITTLE OYSTER JUICE AND THE REST CHICKEN BROTH] and cook over low heat, stirring, until the sauce turns creamy. Add mushrooms and cheese, stir until melted and well blended. Salt and pepper to taste. Spoon sauce over oysters, add breadcrumbs, 450 15 minutes until browned. Serve with lemon wedges.

The finished product was very rich. And cute, in their little ramekins. And good, I guess, my husband ate it right down, but I still think oysters are best raw.

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