Monday, January 6, 2014

Oven Fried Oysters: Cooking the Books

Every winter, my husband an I get together wtih two of our friends and we eat approximately a million oysters. We shuck one, we top it with some sauce (or not), and we slurp it down. Then we repeat it. A lot. There is wine, and for the pretense of virtue, there's water and bread. It is...Oyster Fest.

Yesterday, we had our sixth annual Oyster Fest. And, breaking with tradition somewhat, we actually planned to (gasp) cook some of the oysters. I know. I know. It's a strange course of action, but when one is staring down at hundreds of bivalves, one has to start thinking outside the boundaries of tradition. So, what's a wayward cookbook blogger to do? That's right: reach for Cook Book Presented by The Fishwives of Charleston Oregon.

Oven Fried Oysters

Drain oysters and dry thoroughly. Roll in buttered crumbs. Sprinkle with bacon fat and diced bacon (cooked until soft but not browned). Bake in hot oven (400) 15 to 20 minutes until nicely browned. Serve with lemon.

Millie Henkle

Well, okay then.

I did two batches of about 20 oysters each. There was no draining needed, as they were coming out of the shell not a can -- though I did reserve the liquor. I mixed up about a cup of seasoned breadcrumbs (to which I added a hearty amount of freshly ground black pepper and a big pinch of salt) with the melted fat rendered from the bacon (I had about a quarter cup). I figure this: why use butter when you've got bacon fat at hand? I mixed in fat until the crumbs were moistened and the mixture seemed uniformly sandy. One at a time, I patted oysters dry and chucked them in the bowl with the crumbs. I tossed them in the crumbs, and then spaced them out in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Then, I actually did sprinkled bacon over the top, trying to get at least a few pieces on each oyster. Since I'd used up the bacon fat, I saw no need to sprinkle on more bacon fat (though, hey, if you've got it, might as well).

15 minutes at 400°F got them nice and hot and not a bit rubbery. They likely could have gone a full 20, but I'm really opposed to rubbery oysters (which is why I never cook them in the first place). As they came out of the oven, I sprinkled on a big pinch of salt, even though more salt on oysters might seem like coals to Newcastle.

Friends, I'm here to tell you, these are good. We scarfed them down right quick -- eat them when they're hot. They are dreamy with a squeeze of lemon. They're also pretty darned amazing with a drop of chipotle Tabasco.

This recipe is a keeper. But really, did you expect the fishwives would steer us wrong?

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