Creole Oyster Patties
Oyster patties are very popular at New Orleans parties as pass-around appetizers. They have a problem, however: most are terrible, because the sauce is too thick and rarely has a flavor much better than library paste. This recipe creates an oyster stew thick enough to stay inside the pastry, but with some flavor, too.
There’s another issue: where to find the “patty shells” in which this concoction is baked and served. For generations, one went straight to McKenzie’s for these. McKenzie’s ain’t dere no more, but fear not: Dorignac’s bakery makes then, as does the Swiss Bakery on St. Charles Avenue downtown and quite a few other places.
- 1 pint heavy whipping cream
- 2 cups oyster water
- 1 Tbs. mixed peppercorns (green, white, black, and pink), cracked
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme, or leaves from two sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 stick butter
- 4 dozen oysters, chopped coarsely
- 8 oz. crimini or “Baby Bella” mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 4 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
- 1 bunch green onions, tender green parts only, thinly sliced
- 6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped
- 1 Tbs. grated lemon peel
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 36 small (two inches across) vol–au-vents (patty shells), center part pushed down to leave a hole
1. The first two steps will take about a half-hour, but need no constant attention. In a small saucepan over low heat, bring the whipped cream to a boil and reduce by half. (be careful that the pan doesn’t foam over, as cream has a way of doing.)
2. Into a second small saucepan, strain the oyster water. Add the cracked peppercorns and thyme. Bring it to a light boil over low heat and reduce to about 1/4 cup of liquid. Strain.
3. In a skillet, heat the butter over medium heat until it bubbles. Add the oysters, mushrooms, and bacon. Cook until the mushrooms are soft–about two minutes.
4. Add the reduced cream and the reduced oyster water to the skillet, along with the all but about 1/4 cup of the green onions, plus the parsley and lemon peel. Stir lightly until combined and cook over medium heat about another minute
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
5. Using a slotted spoon, spoon the oyster mixture into the vol-au-vents on a baking sheet or pan. This will leave a lot of sauce in the pan. Bake the vol-au vents for twelve minutes.
6. Meanwhile, bring the sauce in the pan to a light simmer. When the vol-au-vents are ready, remove them from the oven and add a teaspoon or two of the sauce. Top with a sprinkling of green onion and serve immediately.
Makes 36 oyster vol-au-vents.