Oysters Roffignac

You have the Roffignac cocktail, an effete, fruity drink with some appeal in CERTAIN CIRCLES, then for those with a rougher, more roguish–and, dare I say, more realistic–bent, you have oysters Roffignac, an astoundingly bravado dish.

This recipe comes by way of Howard Mitcham, who says the Roffignac, which occupied the corner of Royal and St. Peter Streets, was the most popular restaurant in antebellum New Orleans and was founded by the family of the French nobleman who became the city’s tenth mayor in 1820. Howard claims that oysters Roffignac was the first “baked” oyster dish in New Orleans, and if Howard says so, it’s so. You’ll not find many oyster recipes that use red wine, and even fewer using paprika for flavor as opposed to color, but you’re going to be immeasurably surprised at how wonderful this combination can be. Add this dish to your repertoire as a hearty alternative to a sissy Bienville or Rockefeller.

For four servings:
2 dozen fresh oysters in their shells
1/2 lb. peeled boiled shrimp (about a pound raw in the shell)
A half dozen scallions, finely chopped
About a dozen small button mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stick butter
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon paprika
A dash of cayenne
About a half cup of dry red wine

Clean oysters of mud and hangers-on, shuck and reserve liquid. Heat butter, add scallions, garlic, shrimp, mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are done through. Dissolve cornstarch in about ¼ cup water, add to pan, quickly add wine and oyster liquor as mixture thickens. Top oysters and broil until cooked through. Serve with lemon and parsley.

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