Oysters are a beloved delicacy. The speed with which oysters go from bodies of water to people’s dinner tables belies just how difficult it can be to harvest them. For instance, in her book “Eula Mae’s Cajun Kitchen” (Harvard Common Press), the late Eula Mae Doré, a legendary cook who plied her trade on Louisiana’s Avery Island for decades before passing away in 2008, described the backbreaking work of harvesting oysters. That work required oyster fishermen to haul up heavy nets and baskets filled with oysters in their shells, after which the oysters were sorted, iced down and sent to market.
Thankfully, oyster aficionados need not contend with such labor. For many oyster lovers, simply feasting on this tasty delicacy is enough. And there’s always unique ways to enjoy oysters, such as in this recipe from Doré herself.
Mini Oyster Tarts
INGREDIENTS: Makes 1 dozen 3-inch patties or 3 dozen small patties
1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
3⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
21⁄2 cups chopped yellow onions
1⁄2 cup seeded and chopped green bell peppers
1⁄2 cup seeded and chopped red bell peppers
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1⁄2 cup sliced white button mushrooms
1⁄2 cup (1 stick butter)
1 quart oysters, well drained and liquor reserved
Salt, white pepper and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1⁄8 teaspoon Tabasco brand pepper sauce
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions (green part only)
1 dozen 3-inch patty shells or 36 bite-size patty shells
1. Heat the oil for 2 minutes in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, blend, and cook, stirring constantly and slowly, to make a roux the color of peanut butter. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until very soft, about 15 minutes. Add the bell peppers, garlic, mushrooms, and butter and cook, stirring, until very soft, about 15 minutes. Add the reserved oyster liquor and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring often, until the mixture thickens. Add the oysters, season with salt, white pepper, black pepper, and Tabasco, and cook until the edges of the oysters just begin to curl. Remove from the heat. Stir in the parsley and green onions. Let cool to room temperature.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
3. Fill the patty shells about three quarters full with the filling. Put them on an ungreased baking sheet and bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve immediately.