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Oysters au Poivre

In 1997, my wife ordered me to enter the National Oyster Cooking Competition with this dish. The event takes place in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, where the Chesapeake Bay oysters are almost identical to the ones we have in Louisiana. I came in second. But I think you’ll enjoy this, one of my favorite fancy ways to eat oysters. Make sure you provide lots of fresh hot French bread with this–the sauce is the best part!

Oysters au poivre

  • 1 pint whipping cream
  • 2 tsp. mixed dried peppercorns (black, white, green, pink)
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Pinch saffron threads
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • All the reserved oyster water available, up to 1 cup
  • Two dozen fresh oysters, the larger the better, preferably freshly shucked

1. In a stainless steel or porcelain two-quart saucepan, combine the cream, peppercorns, two sprigs of thyme, and saffron. Bring to a very light boil. (Watch to make sure the pan doesn’t boil over, which cream likes to do.) Add the oyster water. Reduce about 30 minutes, to about one cup of liquid.

2. Add six oysters. Let them cook in the sauce until it resumes bubbling–about two or three minutes. Using a slotted spoon or a skimmer, remove the oysters from the pan and keep warm while you cook the remaining oysters in batches of six. Allow the herbs, peppercorns, and sauce that coat the oysters to remain.

3. When all the oysters are cooked, plunge them all back into the sauce for a few seconds to warm them back up. Arrange three to six (depending on size) on plates. Nap with a little extra sauce, stirring the pan to distribute the peppercorns and herbs. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs.

Serves four to eight.

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