Oysters Johnny Reb

Cover the bottom of a 10-in. gratin with finely-crumbed saltines mixed with pepper, paprika, chopped shallots, and parsley. Add a layer of oysters that have been rolled in the crumb mixture, then top with another layer of crumbs and grated parmesan. Drizzle with only enough melted butter to moisten, then slowly pour heavy cream into the edge of the dish until oysters are just covered. Place in a very hot oven until bubbling and browned.

Angels on Horseback

Dale Harper will not listen to argument. I love him dearly, but his opinions are unshakable. Dale has been cooking all his life, knows food, knows people, and will tell you in a heartbeat what will fly and what won’t. So, when I told him a dish with oysters and bacon would go over like a lead zeppelin, he laughed, patted me on the top of my head as if I were a schoolboy, and poured me another beer.

“Jesse,” he said, shaking a red beard longer than my forearm. “Your problem is you do not think! What you have are two ingredients that are simply made for one another! Consider the oyster, a creature of the seas, and while delicious on its own, is lacking in that one essential ingredient that is dear to the palates of us Homo sapiens.”

“Dale, you’re including me in “sapiens” when you just said I can’t think.”

“Be hush,” he said, swinging his beard around like a baseball bat. “You think, but you don’t think enough. You have to consider things in many lights and from many angles, in this case an examination of contrasts. The oyster lacks fat!” With that he plunged his forefinger onto the bar and then pointed it at me in a thoroughly superfluous gesture of accentuation.

Angels on horseback have been around for a very long time, and the recipe is simple: wrap oysters seasoned with black pepper in bacon. Pat the oysters dry and bring the bacon to room temperature before skewering; soak wood skewers to minimize scorching. Broil or grill until bacon is crisp.

 

Paul Crechale’s Bienville

Nowadays most discussions—more often polemics—about culinary authenticity involve terms such as “the salience of ethnic identity” and “aligning broader socio-political representations”. These investigations certainly have their place in this global franchise we call a world, but when it comes to a specific restaurant recipe, we’re on less esoteric footing. We know that at some point in time, at this particular place, a recipe was formulated, prepared and served, a recipe that became an archetype for any that followed, and our best means of replicating such dishes is to find recipes written by people who are thoroughly familiar with the original and have the wherewithal to replicate it with authority.

Such is the case with Arnaud’s signature recipe for oysters Bienville in Bayou Cuisine that’s credited to Jackson restaurateur Paul Crechale. This recipe rings with authenticity and authority. Note the use of a beige roux to thicken, cream and egg yolks to enrich, mushrooms, shrimp and a hard dry cheese for substance.

Prepare the sauce by browning lightly in 3 tablespoons butter 2 minced onions. Stir in 3 tablespoons flour and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is lightly browned. Be sure not to let it burn. Add gradually 1 ½ cups chicken consommé, ½ cup white wine, 1 cup minced raw mushrooms and 1 ½ cups chopped cooked shrimp. Cook slowly, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes. Open 3 dozen oysters and put them in their deep shells (my italics, jly) on individual baking dishes. Bake the oysters in their own juices in a moderate oven (350) for about 6 minutes. Thicken sauce with 2 egg yolks beaten with 2 tablespoons heavy cream and heat the sauce without boiling. Cover each oyster with some of the sauce and sprinkle lightly with equal parts of dry bread crumbs and grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. Return the oysters to the oven for about 10 minutes, until the topping is browned.