Citizens, TFD is exceptionally fond of a wide range of cooked oyster recipes – this classic of the Big Easy (aka New Orleans) is one of my all-time favorites! For those TFD Citizens of the Jewish faith, congratulations! You have just found what is quite possibly the most treyf (non-kosher) recipe on Earth, laden as it is with Bacon, Butter, Cream, Oysters, Cheese *and* Shrimp, all together in one forbidden (but delicious!) recipe! 😉
Count Arnaud Cazaname of Arnaud’s Restaurant claimed creation of this dish, his was a recreation of the one he first tasted at Antoine’s, created by Chef Auguste Michel.
It is named in honor of Jean de Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, who in 1718, with the help of eighty French exiles, set up a colony near the mouth of the Mississippi river, called La Nouvelle Orleans; now New Orleans. He was also an early Louisiana governor, although he is most well known for being the namesake for this dish.
My version of this classic recipe is based closely on the version served at the equally classic Arnaud’s Restaurant in New Orleans! I use the classic sherry instead of their choice of brandy, add a touch of bacon and have chosen to aromatize the rock salt with a diverse range of herbs and spices that truly perfumes the final dish!
Battle on – The Generalissimo
1 slice of fatty bacon, finely chopped (TFD change to recipe, original called for 1 tbsp vegetable oil)
⅔ cup finely chopped white mushrooms
4 tablespoons (2 ounces, ½ stick) unsalted butter
1 ½ teaspoons very finely chopped garlic
4 large shallots, finely chopped
½ lb cooked shrimp, finely diced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ cup sherry (TFD modification – original used brandy)
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
6 tablespoons grated Romano cheese
4 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon Cayenne pepper
2 dozen briny oysters, freshly shucked and the flat sides of the shells reserved
Garnish (not meant to be eaten):
1 ½ Cups Rock Salt
3 Crushed Bay leaves
1 tsp Whole Cloves
1 tsp Whole Allspice
1 tsp Whole Juniper berries
3 points of Star Anise
Lemon wedges wrapped in muslin sleeves, for serving
In a large, heavy saucepan, cook the bacon to lightly crisp, remove. Sauté the chopped mushrooms for about 4 minutes in the bacon fat, stirring and adding a touch of oil if needed. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, press with another spoon to remove excess liquid and set aside.
In the same pan, melt the butter over low heat and sauté the garlic and shallots for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened.
Add the diced shrimp and stir to mix, then sprinkle evenly with the flour. Stir together, add the reserved mushrooms and increase heat to medium.
Stirring constantly, deglaze the pan with the sherry. Stir in the cream and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until smooth. Stir in the bacon, Romano, dry breadcrumbs, parsley, salt, a touch of black pepper and the Cayenne to a soft moundable consistency. A small amount of whole milk may be added if the mixture is too thick.
Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the mixture to a glass or ceramic bowl. Cool to room temperature.
Transfer mixture to a blender and puree until smooth; set aside. Optionally, put into a pastry bag fitted with a ½” fluted tip and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 ½ hours.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash the oyster shells well and pat dry. Drain the oysters and place one in each of the 24 shells, or use two smaller oysters per shell if necessary.
Mix the Rock Salt with remaining garnish ingredients.
Place the shells in a large, heavy roasting pan lined with a ½-inch layer of garnished rock salt, or place six filled oyster shells in each of four pie pans lined with the garnished rock salt (the rock salt keeps the shells upright during cooking and stops the delicious juices from escaping).
Top each oyster with a generous tablespoon equivalent of the piped or spooned Bienville mix and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until nicely browned.
The shells will be extremely hot. Carefully place 6 oysters on each hot dinner plate.
Garnish with a wrapped lemon wedge and serve immediately.