Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Oyster Stuffing (Page 379)

RECIPE #1143

  • Date: Monday, April 12, 2010 -- 7pm
  • Location: Berkeley, CA
  • Kitchen: Our Temporary California Home
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B

I chose this recipe as part of the All Seafood All The Time plan. I started by shucking the oysters. It was my first oyster-shucking experience. Clams I have shucked, but I only first cooked oysters a few weeks ago and I somehow talked my special gentleman into shucking that day. When I prepped this stuffing my special gentleman was still at work though, so it was just me, a clam knife, and the oysters. The instructions in The Book seemed simple enough: hold the oyster in a glove ("Why do I need a glove?" I wondered. The answer was evident as soon as I started shucking.), insert your oyster knife into the hinge and twist until the shell pops open. The Book did note that this require a certain amount of force. The oysters, of course, were still alive. So they fought back! The harder I tried to wedge my knife into the hinge, the tighter they closed their shell. And when I was able to get in a little bit, they would try very hard to shut again. The knife slipped many times, and if I had not had a glove on my left hand it would have been a bloody mess (thanks, Gourmet Cookbook, for the very helpful tip!). At some point I noticed that my white glove was turning red, and only at that point realized that my right hand (ungloved) was indeed bleeding. In a battle of my knuckle versus an oyster, the oyster had won. So I took a break to find a bandaid for my finger. I still hadn't successfully shucked a single oyster. Finger bandaged, I tried again. Eventually I gave up on the very stubborn oyster number one and set it aside. Oyster number two also defeated me. Oyster number three, however, I was able to shuck! I jumped up and down. I cheered. I went on to oyster number four. Eventually I got the hang of it. It just took more force than I had imagined it would. Once I invested in really shoving my knife in there with a lot of strength, it wasn't so hard. Scary? Yes. Hard? No. Putting a lot of force behind a knife that was essentially directed at my other hand didn't seem like a great plan, but I didn't have any major injuries. At one point a small piece of shell flew off and landed in my eye. That hurt. Next time I'm wearing my sunglasses while I shuck. By the end my right hand had more than a few scrapes and cuts, but it was worth it -- I had even managed to shuck those first two stubborn oysters. At that point I was exhausted and I had barely started the recipe. I sat down and had a little rest.

Once I gathered my strength I cubed some bread and toasted the cubes until they were golden. I cooked some bacon, then cooked onion, celery, garlic, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper in the bacon fat. I added the veggies to the toasted bread cubes and stirred in the bacon, some parsley, melted butter, and the oysters, chopped. I added chicken stock, salt, and pepper, and tossed. Then I put it in a buttered baking dish and baked it, first covered and then uncovered, until browned. This stuffing was ok. The recipe was a very standard stuffing with the additions of oysters and bacon. The base stuffing flavor and texture was very nice. I thought the oysters were ok in it, although it wasn't clear to me that they were worth the effort. I had never had bacon in stuffing before and that was shear brilliance -- yum! We liked it, but both my special gentleman and I preferred the Chestnut Stuffing in The Book.

The recipe is here.

This was the 1143rd recipe I made from The Book, which means that I have only 150 recipes to go!! Yay!!

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