Merry Christmas Every One! (I read A Christmas Carol every year.)
In many parts of the world, it's a thing to eat oysters at Christmas. Even in Southern California, the grocery store kept running out of the fresh ones in jars. I finally got the last two, then had to decide what to do with them.
I flipped through every cookbook I own, searching for something other than a raw oyster recipe. Sorry, that creeps me out. There were several oyster soups which sounded interesting, but they involved puréeing the oysters. Again with the ick factor. Finally, I found what I was looking for in the Williamsburg cookbook. Seasoned, baked, with a lightly crunchy top coat. It would work as an appetizer or a main course alongside pasta. Besides, I got to use my little ramekins.
I did make a slight change in the recipe. I subbed celery for the bell pepper, and topped it with Italian seasoned breadcrumbs instead of crumbled saltines. For such a small amount, I wasn't going to buy a box. And I was having it with pasta with a spinach marinara, so it fit the meal.
One word about the plastic jars the oysters come in. They are very difficult to open. I finally got one after putting on a wrist brace and using two grip pads. I ended up walking up the block with the other, hoping to find a neighbor who could open a jar. Met my new neighbor across the street, but that's not the point. And the jar said Medium Pacific oysters. If those are medium, I don't want to meet the large in a dark alley. I only needed two per serving.
1/4 C butter
1/4 C flour
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
dash cayenne pepper
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 C diced onion
2 ribs celery, diced
1 pint oysters
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
4 tsp cracker or bread crumbs
1. Butter a 1 quart casserole or 4 individual ramekins. Preheat oven to 400º
2. Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Remove from heat and add flour. Stir until smooth, and all lumps have been incorporated into the paste. Return to heat and cook until light brown.
3. Add paprika, salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic, onion, and celery. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring constantly to keep the roux from scorching.
4. Add the oysters and their liquor, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine and heat a minute longer for everything to thicken.
5. Pour into large casserole or divide evenly into ramekins. Sprinkle tops with the crumbs and bake for 20 minutes for the casserole or 15 for the ramekins. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving, as it will be very hot.
Difficulty rating π