There's a delightful Seafood shop not far from where I live called Richard's Fish and Crabs, and this time of year, they've got fresh local oysters @ 3 doz / $15. I can't pass that up. So every payday, I stop and get 3 dozen, then stop at the liquor store for a couple six-packs, then (when I have time) stop at the kitchen sink and shuck and eat about a dozen of them with a cold beer. I should mention that I've bought oysters, mussels, crabs, and fish from Richards, and I've always been not just pleased, but absolutely delighted with the quality of the food and the service. If you live in Harford County, MD and you haven't checked them out yet, really -- you ought to. Nothing in my book tops fresh oysters. Thing is, you have about a week to enjoy them. After that, you're taking chances. So I've been finding other ways to prepare them. Fried oysters, oyster frittatas, oyster fritters, oysters on the half shell, oyster pies, stewed oysters, etc...
Last night, I hit upon a dish that was really good, and thought I'd post it here. This week, Richards had really big Maryland oysters. So after I had dinner on for everyone else, I took a few minutes and decided to put these together for myself. (the rest of my family were born and raised in California, -- they don't have the same appreciation for the heavenly bi-valve that I have) It's pretty simple, only takes about 15 minutes once you have the oysters shucked. The thing you want to remember when cooking oysters, is that the oyster should be the star of the show. If you add so many ingredients that the oyster taste is covered up, then why bother? I used 6-8 of these really large oysters, but if your oysters aren't that big, you might want to use 10-12 of them.
For the bechamel:
3 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp butter or margarine
1 pt. milk or cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 - 1/2 cup shredded fontina cheese
1/4 cup sherry (more or less to taste)
Melt the butter in a cast iron skillet.
Whisk the flour in until it's absorbed all the melted butter.
Start adding the milk or cream, whisking frequently, until it starts to thicken, then keep adding it until you've got the whole pint in there.
Now add your cheese, and stir that in until it's all melted.
Now add the sherry, and keep tasting it until you like it.
For the oysters:
6-8 large oysters
3 Tbsp butter or margarine
about 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
Shuck the oysters, and set them in a bowl. Drain any of the liquor from them.
Melt the butter in a skillet, then put the oysters in, and sprinkle the old bay on top. Saute them until the edges begin to curl. Once they're ready, remove them to a bowl or plate. (a bowl will keep them from sliding around so much). Spoon some of the sherry-bechamel sauce over them and enjoy.
I didn't try it last night, but I bet a few flakes of tarragon sprinkled over top would make a tasty garnish.