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New Orleans Oysters
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"If you don't love life you
can't enjoy an oyster; there is a shock of freshness
to it and intimations of the ages of man, some piercing intuition of the sea
all its weeds and breezes. [They]
shiver you for a split second."
~ Eleanor Clark
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Oyster Gatherers of Cancale, 1878
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La Belle Cuisine
Windsor Court Grill Room [New Orleans] invented this very
unusual baked oyster dish some years ago. It's disappeared from the
menu there, but it's still a great dish. The sauce is rich with cheese,
sharp with horseradish, and crusty with bread crumbs.”
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
24 fresh oysters, unshucked
1 small onion, peeled
1 bay leaf
1 whole clove
2 cups milk
Few drops Tabasco (optional)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons prepared horseradish, drained
Pinch grated nutmeg
2 1/2 pounds rock salt
6 sprigs fresh rosemary
1. In a bowl, combine melted butter, bread crumbs, 1/2 cup of
Parmesan cheese, herbes de Provence, and a pinch of salt
2. Shuck the oysters, reserving their juice. Scrub and dry bottom shells.
3. Place the onion, bay leaf, clove, and milk in a small heavy saucepan
medium heat. When the mixture comes to a boil, remove the
from the heat.
Reserve and keep warm.
4. Melt the 6 tablespoons butter in a medium sauté pan over low heat.
butter is foamy, add the flour and briskly mix together to
form a smooth
paste. Continue to stir over low heat for one minute.
Remove from the
and strain the milk mixture into the paste,
stirring constantly. Return
pan to low heat and fold in the re-
maining 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese,
horseradish and nutmeg.
Season with salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce.
for an addi-
minute, then turn off the heat.
5. Fill a large, deep saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Fill a second
saucepan or large bowl with cold water and ice cubes. In the boiling
poach the oysters for about one minute, or just until the edges
with a slotted spoon and plunge immediately into the
Drain dry on
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place a layer of rock salt about
inch deep in metal baking pans. Press the shells onto the salt.
tablespoon of sauce into each shell, then top with an oyster.
another tablespoon of sauce, and, finally, a spoonful of
breadcrumbs. Place in the preheated oven and bake
for ten minutes, or until
7. Warm six salad plates and place four oysters on each. Garnish with
sprig of fresh rosemary. Serve immediately.
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