published Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Courter's Kitchen: Oysters Bienville dresses up the holidays

Oysters Bienville makes a festive dish for the holidays.
Oysters Bienville makes a festive dish for the holidays.
Photo by Allison Love.

KELLEY SAYS: One dish that I'm particularly fond of around the holidays is Oysters Rockefeller. I thought about doing them for this month's Courter's Kitchen, but I didn't want to buy a bottle of Pernod. It's not a liquor that gets used a lot and it's pricey. It would be nice to be able to get single-serving bottles locally.

That being said, we decided to try another oyster recipe and, after some research, we came up with this version. It's very rich and will make a great addition to your holiday meal.

BARRY SAYS: I also like Oysters Rockefeller and my grandmother used to make oyster stuffing for the holidays, so I was happy as a clam we were doing this.

We first tried the Bienville with a squeeze of lemon and some hot sauce because, well, that's what you do, right? They were good, but Kelley tried one without either and the difference was striking. The hot sauce overwhelmed the dish and the lemon actually seemed to change the flavor altogether. They were good that way, but really good without. The shrimp, oysters, sausage and peppers worked great together and you could taste them all. It was like a mini casserole on a shell.

KELLEY: A word of advice: Barry and I ate all of them, so quadruple the recipe if serving a crowd.

BARRY: They were supposed to be an appetizer, but ended up as dinner. I'm looking forward to doing them again.

Oysters Bienville

18 fresh oysters shucked

Bechamel Sauce

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoon flour

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup half & half

Dash ground nutmeg

Melt butter over low heat. Add flour and nutmeg. Cook 1 minute. Slowly add liquids and cook until thick. Set aside and let cool.

Topping

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 small onion finely chopped

1/2 large shallot chopped

2 large cloves garlic chopped

1 stalk celery chopped

2 green onions chopped

1/2 green bell pepper chopped

1 cup mushrooms chopped

1/4 cup white wine

2 tablespoons oyster liquid

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 tablespoon fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon Emeril's Essence

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

12 fresh shrimp cleaned, deveined and chopped

1/2 link andouille sausage chopped and sautéed

2 slices applewood smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 egg yolk beaten

1 cup seasoned bread crumbs combined with

1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

Melt butter in pan and add next six ingredients. Cook on low heat until vegetables are limp. Add mushrooms, wine and oyster liquid. Add shrimp, herbs, essence and pepper. Cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Once cooled, add sausage, bacon, egg yolk and Bechamel. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add rock salt to bottom of a pie pan oysters don't tilt. Place good amount of mixture on top of oyster, then sprinkle with bread crumb mixture. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until golden. Serve immediately. You may also use shucked oysters with the shell and place in individual serving dishes.

Contact staff writer Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6354.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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