Oysters Bienville

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Yield:

    4 to 6

    Servings.

Appears in

Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking

Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking

By Craig Claiborne

Published 1987

  • About

Oysters Bienville were named for Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, sieur de Bienville. He was born in 1680 in Montreal, Canada, and was the second colonial governor of Louisiana. He died in New Orleans in 1768. I was fascinated to read in the Encyclopaedia Britannica that when Bienville first came to New Orleans, the village was “a place of a hundred wretched hovels in a malarious wet thicket of willows and dwarf palmettos, infested by serpents and alligators.” The oyster dish named in his honor is an elegant dish, with oysters baked in a cream sauce with crabmeat or shrimp.

Ingredients

  • 36 oysters
  • ¾ cup Fish Stock or bottled clam juice, approximately
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ pound finely chopped mushrooms (about 1 cup)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped scallion(s), including green part
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced sweet green pepper
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Salt to taste, if desired
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste, preferably white
  • 1 cup finely chopped cooked shrimp or shredded crabmeat
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • ½ cup fine fresh bread crumbs
  • ½ cup freshly grated Romano, Gruyère, or Parmesan cheese

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
  2. Shuck the oysters or have them shucked. Reserve half the shells, all the oysters, and ¼ cup of the liquid.
  3. Add enough fish stock or clam juice to the oyster liquor to make 1 cup.
  4. Heat the butter in a saucepan and add the mushrooms, scallions, green pepper, and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are wilted. Add the wine and cook until all the liquid evaporates. Do not burn the vegetables.
  5. Sprinkle the mixture with flour, stirring with a wire whisk. Quickly add the oyster-liquor mixture, stirring rapidly with the whisk.
  6. When the sauce has thickened, blend the eggs with the cream and add to the sauce. Cook, stirring constantly, about 10 seconds and remove from the heat. Add the nutmeg, cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir in the shrimp and sherry.
  7. Rinse the oyster shells and pat them dry.
  8. Traditionally, the shells are arranged on a bed of rock salt in 2 to 4 ovenproof baking dishes. It is easier, however, to use a baking sheet and arrange the shells, hollow side up, over it. Place 1 drained oyster in each shell. Spoon equal portions of the sauce over the oysters.
  9. Blend the bread crumbs and cheese, and sprinkle equal amounts of this over each oyster in the half shell. Place in the oven and bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until the sauce is piping hot and lightly browned on top.