Roland Huet was one of the most skillful French chefs ever to work in New Orleans. Born and trained in the Loire Valley of France, he fetched up in the 1960s at Galatoire’s in the French Quarter. Chris Ansel–one of the family managers of Galatoire’s–left in the 1970s to open his own restaurant, Christian’s. Roland went with Chris, and created the menu that would make Christian’s an essential restaurant. On it was this baked oyster appetizer. It remained until the restaurant came to an end with Hurricane Katrina.
- 4 dozen medium oysters
- 1 bunch curly-leaf parsley, bottom stems removed
- 3 cloves garlic
- 8 oz. small mushrooms, well washed
- 1 lb. softened butter
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- Generous pinch nutmeg
- 1 cup French bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
1. Bring 1/2 cup of water to a light boil in a small skillet. Add the oysters and poach for two minutes. Strain the pan contents, reserving the liquid. Return the liquid to a light boil and reduce by about a third.
2. Put the parsley, garlic, mushrooms, salt, pepper, and nutmeg into a food processor, and process into a very fine mixture. Add the butter and process into a coarse gritty puree.
3. Add the bread crumbs and the reserved stock from the oysters and process only long enough to mix everything thoroughly.
4. Place six oysters in the bottom of each of eight small gratin dishes. With a spatula, lightly pack down enough sauce to cover the oysters completely, filling the dishes nearly to the top. (You can prepare the dish to this point ahead of time and hold in the refrigerator. Take them out of the refrigerator a half-hour before the final baking.)
5. Bake the gratins of oysters in a preheated 400-degree oven until the tops are distinctly browned and crusty, and the sauce is heaving and steaming. Serve immediately with hot French bread for getting up the extra sauce.
Makes eight appetizers.