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Winter is the Best Time to Eat Oysters
Oysters are a delicious shellfish popular in the Chesapeake Bay region. But don't expect the best oyster specialties to be served in restaurants - these recipes are best made at home. The following recipes are easy to follow and quick to make.
When you cook oysters, never overcook. Overcooking oysters, just like any seafood, will make the finished product tough and tasteless.
Fresh oysters have clean, fresh smell and the shells are closed tightly. Whether buying in the shell or jar, eat oysters as soon as possible after purchase for optimum flavor and freshness.
Oysters are low calorie and provide protein, zinc, B-12, phosphate, and phosphorus.
Oysters are a fall and winter food, in season at that time, and full of the warmth and goodness that make for real comfort food!
When I was a little girl, food came in seasons, especially local foods. Oysters are in season in the Chesapeake Bay region during months that have an R in them. But if you really love oysters and long for that full rich flavor forget even September and October. You need to wait for a cold snap.
Oysters conjure up winter memories. On Saturdays playing outside (so glad for a reprieve from school) on the hard winter ground, looking for frozen puddles to slide on, or after playing in the brittle winter woods, I'd come in to find my father bent over the stove, checking his pan of oysters.
He'd lift the towel that covered the pan and I'd watch that briny steam rise. A little pot of melted butter stood by. How warm it was! How it spoke of the beautiful Chesapeake Bay (the steam smelled like low tide) and how oysters remind me today of time spent with father, a dark sky and a bright kitchen, and how those oysters warm your stomach and your heart.
Set a pan on the range and cover the bottom with shallow water. Place a rack in the pan. (You don't really have to place a rack in the skillet as long as you keep the water line below the area where the oyster will open). You may have to add more water later. You don't want the water to cover the oysters, but you don't want the pan to dry out either.
- Add oysters.
- Cover with a towel.
- Wait until the oyster opens.This does not take long.
- Scrape the meat off the shell.
- Dip in melted butter.
This is standing around the kitchen food. The simple recipe works well for outdoor cooking over a fire.
When you prepare an old fashioned recipe, measurements are not precise. You mess with the proportions depending on taste and the amount of liquid. For scalloped oysters, I usually buy already shucked oysters - it's just easier that way.
In a small iron skillet, melt 3 - 4 Tablespoons of butter.
Crumble up a 1/2 of a package of saltine crackers. But don't crumble them too much. Don't turn them in to crumbs. Mix with the melted butter in the skillet.
Pour the jar (with the liquid) into the skillet and mix.
Cook in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.
Fried, Padded Oysters
Preparation - Drain liquid from a jar of oysters and reserve. Fill a large plate with bread crumbs and another with a little flour.
Now you are ready.
- Dredge an oyster through the flour
- Dip in reserved liquid.
- Roll in bread crumbs
- Repeat, placing a 2nd and 3rd oyster on top, overlapping the first with a sprinkle of bread crumbs in between.
- Take the 3 oysters in the palm of your hand and press together gently.
- Roll in bread crumbs and set aside.
- Repeat with the rest until you have made several padded oysters.
- Chill on plate for one hour.
- Heat a skillet on medium high.
- Add fat. (Lard is best but I use oil)
- Fry padded oysters til golden brown. Turn and repeat.
- Drain on paper towels.