Oysters Suzette

Despite the name, this dish has nothing in common with crepes Suzette, the famous orange-flavored dessert. Instead, it is a savory, slightly smoky, piquant sauce, redolent of bell pepper, created by Count Arnaud Cazenave, founder of the 81-year-old restaurant that bears his name. It is my personal favorite of all the baked oyster dishes at Arnaud’s.

Oysters Arnaud, a five-oyster extravaganza. The Suzette is at four o'clock.

Oysters Arnaud, a five-oyster extravaganza. The Suzette is at four o’clock.

  • 24 large oysters
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 3 slices bacon, cut into small squares
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onion tops, chopped
  • 3 sprigs fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup pimientos, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 Tbs. brandy
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs

1. Bring two cups of water (oyster water, if you have it) to a light boil in a skillet. Poach the oysters for about 30 seconds. Drain the oysters and set aside to cool and dry. Strain the water from the pan and set aside.

2. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and add the bacon. Saute the bacon till nearly crisp. Add celery, green onion, parsley, pimientos and bay leaf. Cook for another three minutes, until vegetables are limp.

3. Add the water you poached the oysters in, along with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add the brandy. Stir well, reduce to a simmer and cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

4. Add just enough bread crumbs to to make the sauce hold together. It is not necessary to use the entire quantity.

5. Place the oysters in either clean oyster shells or au gratin dishes. Top each oyster with about a tablespoon of sauce. Sprinkle a pinch of bread crumbs over each oyster.

6. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until top of sauce is toasty and slightly crusty.

Serve very hot, with a warning that the sauce can burn the roof of the mouth if eaten injudiciously!

Serves four to six.

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  1. Linda b. on February 6, 2014

    Sounds wonderful. And somewhat familiar . One question though , how would you recommend cleaning oyster shells? I guess I never held onto them for this reason except to use for drainage in the yard. 🙂 .

    • Tom Fitzmorris on February 7, 2014

      Until recently, restaurant were required to send the oyster shells they’d use for a dish like this through the dishwasher. Now they are only allowed to use the shells of the actual oyster being served.

      Better idea: make the dish in a small to medium-size casserole, or (even better) an au gratin dish.

      Tastefully yours,
      Tom Fitzmorris