Oysters must be fresh and fat to be good. They are in season from September to May.
The small ones, such as are sold by the quart, are good for pies, fritters, or stews; the largest of this sort are nice for frying or pickling for family use.
Take large oysters from their own liquor into a thickly folded napkin to dry them; then make hot an ounce each of butter and lard in a thick-bottomed frying pan. Season the oysters with pepper and salt, then dip each one into egg and cracker crumbs rolled fine, until it will take up no more. Place them in the hot grease and fry them a delicate brown, turning them on both sides by sliding a broad-bladed knife under them. Serve them crisp and hot.
Some prefer to roll oysters in corn meal and others use flour, but they are much more crisp with egg and cracker crumbs.
OYSTERS FRIED IN BATTER.
Ingredients.—One-half pint of oysters, two eggs, one-half pint of milk, sufficient flour to make the batter; pepper and salt to taste; when liked, a little nutmeg; hot lard.
Scald the oysters in their own liquor, beard them, and lay them on a cloth to drain thoroughly. Break the eggs into a basin, mix the flour with them, add the milk gradually, with nutmeg and seasoning, and put the oysters in a batter. Make some lard hot in a deep frying pan; put in the oysters one at a time; when done, take them up with a sharp pointed skewer and dish them on a napkin. Fried oysters are frequently used for garnishing boiled fish, and then a few bread crumbs should be added to the flour.
STEWED OYSTERS. (In Milk or Cream.)
Drain the liquor from two quarts of oysters; mix with it a small teacupful of hot water, add a little salt and pepper and set it over the fire in a saucepan. Let it boil up once, put in the oysters, let them come to a boil, and when they “ruffle” add two tablespoonfuls of butter. The instant it is melted and well stirred in, put in a pint of boiling milk and take the saucepan from the fire. Serve with oyster or cream crackers. Serve while hot.
If thickening is preferred, stir in a little flour or two tablespoonfuls of cracker crumbs.
PLAIN OYSTER STEW.
Same as milk or cream stew, using only oyster liquor and water instead of milk or cream, adding more butter after taking up.
For oyster soup, see SOUPS.
DRY OYSTER STEW.
Take six to twelve large oysters and cook them in half a pint of their own liquor; season with butter and white pepper; cook for five minutes, stirring constantly. Serve in hot soup plates or bowls.
Prepare the oysters in egg batter and fine cracker meal; fry in butter over a slow fire for about ten minutes; cover the hollow of a hot platter with tomato sauce; place the oysters in it, but not covering; garnished with chopped parsley sprinkled over the oysters.
Dry a quart of oysters in a cloth, dip each in melted butter well peppered; then in beaten egg, or not, then in bread or cracker crumbs also peppered. Broil on a wire broiler over live coals three to five minutes. Dip over each a little melted butter. Serve hot.
ROAST OYSTERS IN THE SHELL. No. 1.
Select the large ones, those usually termed “Saddle Rocks,” formerly known as a distinct variety, but which are now but the large oysters selected from any beds; wash and wipe them, and place with the upper or deep shell down, to catch the juice, over or on live coals. When they open their shells, remove the shallow one, being careful to save all the juice in the other; place them, shells and all, on a hot platter, and send to the table hot to be seasoned by each person with butter and pepper to taste. If the oysters are fine, and they are just cooked enough and served hot, this is, par excellence, the style.
OYSTER ROAST. No. 2.
Put one quart of oysters in a basin with their own liquor and let them boil three or four minutes; season with a little salt, pepper and a heaping spoonful of butter. Serve on buttered toast.
Wash and drain a quart of counts or select oysters; put them in a shallow pan and place in a steamer over boiling water; cover and steam till they are plump, with the edges ruffled, but no longer. Place to a heated dish, with butter, pepper, and salt, and serve.
STEAMED OYSTERS IN THE SHELL.
Wash and place them in an air-tight vessel, laying them the upper shell downward, so that the liquor will not run out when they open. Place this dish or vessel over a pot of boiling water where they will get the steam. Boil them rapidly until the shells open, about fifteen to twenty minutes. Serve at once while hot, seasoned with butter, salt and pepper.
PAN OYSTERS. No. 1.
Cut some stale bread into thin slices, taking off all the crust, round the slices to fit patty-pans; toast, butter, place them in the pans and moisten with three or four teaspoonfuls of oyster liquor; place on the toast a layer of oysters, sprinkle with pepper, and put a small piece of butter on top of each pan; place all the pans in a baking-pan, and place in the oven, covering tightly. They will cook in seven or eight minutes if the oven is hot; or, cook till the beards are ruffled; remove the cover, sprinkle lightly with salt, replace, and cook one minute longer. Serve in patty pans. They are delicious.
PAN OYSTERS. No. 2.
Lay in a thin pie tin or dripping-pan, half a pint of large oysters, or more if required; have the pan large enough so that each oyster will lie flat on the bottom; put in over them a little oyster liquor, but not enough to float; place them carefully in a hot oven and just heat them through thoroughly—do not bake them—which will be in three to five minutes, according to fire; take them up and place on toast; first moistened with the hot juice from the pan. Are a very good substitute for oysters roasted in the shell, the slow cooking bringing out the flavor.
Select plump, good-sized oysters; drain off the juice, and to a cup of this juice add a cup of milk, a little salt, four well-beaten eggs, and flour enough to make batter like griddle-cakes.
Envelope an oyster in a spoonful of this batter (some cut them in halves or chop them fine), then fry in butter and lard, mixed in a frying pan the same as we fry eggs, turning to fry brown on both sides. Send to the table very hot.
Most cooks fry oyster fritters the same as crullers, in a quantity of hot lard, but this is not always convenient; either way they are excellent.
Line patty-pans with thin pastry, pressing it well to the tin. Put a piece of bread or a ball of paper in each. Cover them with paste and brush them over with the white of an egg. Cut an inch square of thin pastry, place on the centre of each, glaze this also with egg, and bake in a quick oven fifteen to twenty minutes. Remove the bread or paper when half cold.
Scald as many oysters as you require (allowing two for each patty, three if small) in their own liquor. Cut each in four and strain the liquor. Put two tablespoonfuls of butter and two of flour into a thick saucepan; stir them together over the fire till the flour smells cooked, and then pour half a pint of oyster liquor and half a pint of milk into the flour and butter. (If you have cream use it instead of milk.) Stir till it is a thick, smooth sauce. Put the oysters into it and let them boil once. Beat the yolks of two eggs. Remove the oysters for one minute from the fire, then stir the eggs into them till the sauce looks like thick custard.
Fill the patties with this oyster fricassee, taking care to make it hot by standing in boiling water before dinner on the day required, and to make the patty cases hot before you fill them.
FULTON MARKET ROAST.
It is still known in New York from the place at which it was and is still served. Take nine large oysters out of the shell; wash, dry and roast over a charcoal fire, on a broiler. Two minutes after the shells open they will be done. Take them off quickly, saving the juice in a small shallow, tin pan; keep hot until all are done; butter them and sprinkle with pepper.
This is served for one person when calling for a roast of this kind. It is often poured over a slice of toast.
Have ready about a pint of fine cracker crumbs. Butter a deep earthen dish; put a layer of the cracker crumbs on the bottom; wet this with some of the oyster liquor; next have a layer of oysters; sprinkle with salt and pepper, and lay small bits of butter upon them; then add another layer of cracker crumbs and oyster juice; then oysters, pepper, salt and butter, and so on, until the dish is full; the top layer to be cracker crumbs. Beat up an egg in a cup of milk and turn over all. Cover the dish and set it in the oven for thirty or forty-five minutes. When baked through, uncover the top, set on the upper grate and brown.
Scald a quart can of oysters in their own liquor; when it boils, skim out the oysters and set them aside in a warm place. To the liquor add a pint of hot water; season well with salt and pepper, a generous piece of butter, thicken with flour and cold milk. Have ready nice light biscuit dough, rolled twice as thick as pie crust; cut out into inch squares, drop them into the boiling stew, cover closely, and cook forty minutes. When taken up, stir the oysters into the juice and serve all together in one dish. A nice side entrée.
BOSTON OYSTER PIE.
Having buttered the inside of a deep pie plate, line it with puff paste, or common pie crust, and prepare another sheet of paste for the lid; put a clean towel into the dish (folded so as to support the lid), set it into the oven and bake the paste well; when done, remove the lid and take out the towel. While the paste is baking, prepare the oysters. Having picked off carefully every bit of shell that may be found about them, drain the liquor into a pan and put the oysters into a stewpan with barely enough of the liquor to keep them from burning; season them with pepper, salt and butter; add a little sweet cream or milk, and one or two crackers rolled fine; let the oysters simmer, but not boil, as that will shrivel them. Remove the upper crust of pastry and fill the dish with the oysters and gravy. Replace the cover and serve hot.
Some prefer baking the upper crust on a pie plate, the same size as the pie, then slipping it off on top of the pie after the same pie is filled with the oysters.
Grate the corn, while green and tender, with a coarse grater, into a deep dish. For two ears of corn, allow one egg; beat the whites and yolks separately, and add them to the corn, with one tablespoonful of wheat flour and one of butter, a teaspoonful of salt and pepper to taste. Drop spoonfuls of this batter into a frying pan with hot butter and lard mixed, and fry a light brown on both sides.
In taste, they have a singular resemblance to fried oysters. The corn must be young.
Take a slice of raw ham, which has been pickled, but not smoked, and soak in boiling water for half an hour; cut it in quite small pieces, and put in a saucepan with two-thirds of a pint of veal or chicken broth, well strained; the liquor from a quart of oysters, one small onion, minced fine, a little chopped parsley, sweet marjoram, and pepper; let them simmer for twenty minutes, and then boil rapidly for two or three minutes; skim well and add one scant tablespoon of cornstarch, mixed smoothly in one-third cup of milk; stir constantly, and when it boils add the oysters and one ounce of butter; after which, just let it come to a boil, and remove the oysters to a deep dish; beat one egg, and add to it gradually some of the hot broth, and, when cooked, stir it into the pan; season with salt, and pour the whole over the oysters. When placed upon the table, squeeze the juice of a lemon over it.
Small Oyster Pies.
For each pie take a tin plate half the size of an ordinary dinner plate; butter it, and cover the bottom with a puff paste, as for pies; lay on it five or six select oysters, or enough to cover the bottom; butter them and season with a little salt and plenty of pepper; spread over this an egg batter, and cover with a crust of the paste, making small openings in it with a fork. Bake in a hot oven fifteen to twenty minutes, or until the top is nicely browned.
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