Pretty Dishes

Oysters Bienville (Mardi Gras Party, Part 1)
April 4, 2010, 11:38 am
Filed under: Recipes

My dear friend hosted two fantastic Mardi Gras parties a few weeks ago, and I was there to document the making of the evenings’ two star dishes: Oysters Bienville and Cajun Jambalaya (post to come). As much as I love to cook and photograph as I go, there is no doubt that it is much easier to capture someone else doing all the work (thanks, M!), not to mention a nice variety when shooting in another person’s kitchen.

I’m not a raw oyster eater, mostly because the snotty consistency gets in the way of me enjoying what nice flavor might be hiding in there. Baked oysters, however, especially those drenched in a delicious sauce, are all right by me. They meld perfectly with the rest of the ingredients here and go down smooth.

This recipe comes from none other than Emeril Lagasse via the Food Network website. My friend modified the recipe two different ways for the two parties. In both cases she used jarred oysters rather than buying them in the shell; the obvious benefit to this is they are cheaper and not as much work. The recipe calls for serving the oysters with sauce in the half shell, and if you are making a small batch and looking for an ideal presentation, definitely go for that. For the first party my friend served them in clam shells as small bites, and for the second party she baked larger portions in small ramekins since there were fewer guests. I can attest that both variations were delicious.

Regardless of how you choose to serve it, this makes for excellent party fare.

Favorite photos from this group include the egg and adding parsley to the sauce. Feel free to join me in drooling over my friend’s fantastic Le Creuset 3.5-quart round oven. I hope to own one myself someday. And my apologies for the two finished dish photographs: the first was shot by my husband in low light (I had to do quite a bit of Photoshopping) and the second was shot at the last second using a wide-angle lens.

Oysters Bienville

Rock salt, for baking
2 strips bacon, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped yellow onions
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup finely chopped white button mushrooms
1/4 pound medium-size shrimp, peeled, deveined, and chopped
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped green onions (green parts only)
2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley leaves
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 dozen freshly shucked oysters, drained and deeper bottom shell rinsed and reserved for baking

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Spread a 1/2-inch-thick layer of rock salt on a large baking sheet and across the bottoms of 2 large plates. Set aside.

Fry the bacon until just crisp in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, salt, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and butter, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until the butter melts. Add the flour, and, stirring slowly and constantly, cook for 2 minutes. Add the milk and wine and stir to blend.

Reduce the heat to medium, then add the mushrooms and shrimp. Stir and fold to mix and cook until the mixture is thick, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the Parmesan, lemon juice, green onions, and parsley; stir to blend.

Remove from the heat, add the egg yolk, and blend well. Let cool to room temperature.

Arrange the reserved oyster shells on the prepared baking sheet. Put 1 oyster in each shell and top with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the sauce, spreading the sauce evenly out to the edges of the shell to completely cover the oyster. (Alternatively, pipe the sauce over the oysters.) Bake until the sauce is lightly browned and the oysters begin to curl around the edges, about 20 minutes.

Using tongs or a spatula, carefully transfer the hot shells to the salt-covered plates and serve immediately.


1 Comment so far
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I know I’m the ‘cook’ here, but looking at these pictures still makes me drool. I want to eat this dish every day. :) I love the shot below the egg shot — great colors, appetizing as heck. YUM.

Comment by meosima

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