Oysters are a seafood that you either love or dislike. There does not seem to be any in between. Oysters are best during the winter months. The rule to only eat oysters in the months with R’s in them dated back to times before refrigeration. Oysters do not travel well unless they are kept cool. The months with R’s in them correspond to the late fall thru spring, when the weather is cooler. Now with refrigeration being what it is today, you can eat oysters throughout the year.
However, I always stick to the months with R’s theory. During the summer months, the waters that the oysters live in are warm and not as salty. This is the time of year when the oysters reproduce. This can lead to oysters looking milky and not tasting as good.
The only way that my wife will eat oysters is if they are fried. My favorite way to eat an oyster is as soon as I have shucked it from its shell. The main issue with shucking oysters in Arkansas is being able to get them still in the shell. I am still working on a good supplier for that. Fortunately, you can buy oysters already shucked in pint containers. The following two recipes do not require you to shuck your own oysters.
Here is a wonderful Creole Italian dish. Oysters cooked in New Orleans style bordelaise sauce served over cooked pasta. Make sure that you have plenty of bread to get every drop of the sauce.
2 dozen Large Fresh Oysters
1/4 cup Olive Oil
3 tablespoons Softened Butter
1/4 cup Green Onions, chopped
2 tablespoons Garlic, minced
Creole Seasoning to taste
1 pound Cooked Spaghetti
3 tablespoons fresh Parsley, chopped
Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil until it shimmers. Add the oysters, cooking them by shaking the pan and making them roll around until they plump up. Add all the other ingredients except the pasta, parsley and Parmesan and cook until the green onions have wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the cooked, drained spaghetti to the pan and toss with a large fork to distribute pan contents among the pasta. Place in bowls and top with parsley and Parmesan cheese.
With the weather starting to turn cool, soups are starting to become more relevant. In a few weeks, I will share some more soup recipes. Many New Orleans restaurants feature Oyster soup or Stew on their menu. This recipe is my favorite, from the old Brennan’s restaurant. The oyster flavor in this soup is an oyster lovers dream.
2 cups (about 48) shucked Oysters
3 quarts Cold Water
1 & 1/2 sticks Butter
1 cup Celery, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons Garlic, minced
1 cup Green Onions, minced
4 Bay Leaves
1 tablespoon dry Thyme leaves
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon White Pepper
1/2 cup fresh Parsley, minced
In a large saucepan, combine the oysters and 3 quarts cold water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer about 5 minutes; skim any residue from the surface. Strain the oysters, reserving the stock. Dice the oysters and set aside. Melt the butter in a large pot and sauté the celery and garlic over medium heat about 5 minutes or until tender. Add the green onions, bay leaves and thyme, then stir in the flour. Cook the mixture for 5 minutes over low heat, stirring constantly. Using a whisk, blend in the oyster stock, then add the Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Cook the soup over medium heat about 20 minutes until thickened, then add the parsley and oysters. Simmer until the oysters are warmed through, about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaves before serving.
With the holiday’s coming up, oysters are featured in some New Orleans Dishes. Next week, I will offer a traditional Oyster Dressing as part of my preparation to Thanksgiving articles.