Down here in south Louisiana, Christmas and seafood go together like peanut butter and chocolate.
Louisiana crowns the Gulf of Mexico, and throughout south Louisiana, there is “water, water everywhere.” There’s a reason why Louisiana is called “The Sportsman’s Paradise.” The land and the water provide excellent hunting and fishing. And we get to enjoy the spoils on our tables.
Seafood is plentiful in Louisiana. Traditionally, the R-months were considered oyster months: SeptembeR, OctobeR, NovembeR and DecembeR. Modern day refrigeration makes the R-month rule obsolete. However, the tradition remains and seafood, especially oysters, fit perfectly at the end of the December R-month.
Oysters are a treasured seafood delicacy here in south Louisiana, and they are featured in many family holiday dishes. Some families prefer to eat them raw, whereas others prefer them grilled, broiled or “fancied-up” in one of the classic oyster dishes: Oysters Rockefeller or Oysters Bienville. And Oyster Dressing is a typical side dish on many Thanksgiving and Christmas tables.
Christmas is a season, and we strive each year to celebrate the season to the fullest, and that usually means splurging on lots of seafood.
Our Christmas seafood celebrations always culminate just a day or two after Christmas with a visit from my son’s godfather, “Big D” and a sack of oysters. Some of the oysters we eat raw, but many of them we “grill” according to a knock-off recipe of Drago’s famous char-grilled oysters.
They make a great appetizer. And if you don’t have a grill, no worries! You can also make this dish in the oven.
In the past – to “grill” the oysters – we have used oyster shells or muffin pans. We have even used a stoneware muffin pan in the oven. But we don’t have to scrounge around anymore trying to find something to cook those oysters in. Now we have an Oyster Bed, which make it so easy!
Below are the directions for preparing these oysters in an oven.
- 4 sticks of butter
- 4 or 5 cloves of garlic, minced (or crushed & beaten in a mortar & pestle)
- Raw oysters – Lots of ‘em. You can get them un-schucked in a sack, or shucked in a bucket filled with oyster liquor. How many? Well, that’s up to you. The more you get, though, the more of the other ingredients you need to have on hand.
- Fresh ground black pepper – to taste
- Tabasco or Crystal Hot Sauce – to taste
- About ¼ to ½ cup of Parmesan Cheese (we love lots on our oysters!)
- ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
- An Oyster Bed (either the large or small) or oyster shells, or muffin tins
- In a small saucepan, melt a stick of butter at low heat. Add generous amounts of the following: fresh chopped garlic, Louisiana Hot Sauce, fresh lemon juice, and green onions (the green onions act as “flavor catchers” in this intensely poignant sauce!). Bring up the heat a bit to a simmer. Add a splash or two of whatever (good) beer you may have open. Beer pairs so well with Louisiana oysters! This sauce says, “WOW!” Adjust to your liking. Just remember that it should zing!
- Preheat oven to about 450.
- Add sauce to each compartments of the Oyster Bed. Add an oyster to each compartment. Top with grated hard cheese (Romano or Parmesan) and a touch of chopped parsley for looks. Cook at 450 until the cheese is bubbly.
Dive in as soon as the oysters come out of the oven. We arm ourselves with bamboo skewers. Attack and repeat.
It’s also good to have some lightly toasted French bread on hand. You won’t want to leave a drop of the sauce behind. The French bread is good at sopping up every drop of deliciousness. Every. Single. Drop.
CHRISTMAS FAMILY CULINARY TRADITIONS
Do you have a special dish that you prepare with your family each year at Christmas?
I’d love to hear about it! Leave me a comment below!