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Oysters Tchoupitoulas

This was a specialty of the old Tchoupitoulas Plantation restaurant that operated in Avondale from the 1950s into the 1980s. By the time I got there, it was more of an atmospheric experience than a gustatory one. But this dish remained reasonably good, if not one of the great oyster dishes of all time. The bivalves were cooked (overcooked, I thought) in a very dark sauce flavored with Worcestershire and steak sauce. Roy Guste Jr. published what I think was the actual recipe in his book, “100 Best New Orleans Restaurant Recipes.” I fooled around with it a little and came up with this. It’s good served as is, but it’s superb tossed with angel hair pasta.

Oysters Tchoupitoulas

  • 4 dozen freshly-shucked oysters, with their liquor
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 green onions, tender green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup Tabasco Caribbean-style steak sauce (or Pickapeppa sauce)
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine (Chianti would be my choice)
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

1. Drain the oysters in a sieve and collect all the oyster liquor. Pour the oyster liquor plus enough chicken stock to make three cups of liquid total into a saucepan. Bring it to a boil and lower to a simmer.

2. Combine the butter and flour in another, large saucepan and make a medium dark roux, stirring constantly. When the roux is the right color, remove the pan from the heat and add the green onions, stirring until they become soft–about a minute.

3. Add about a half-cup of the oyster water-stock mixture to the roux and stir lightly until just combines–about five seconds. Add the wine, Worcestershire, steak sauce, and lemon juice. Return to a simmer over low heat.

4. When you see the first bubbles return, add the remaining stock to the roux mixture and stir with a wire whisk until uniformly blended. Cook for about ten minutes, or until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste. The sauce is now complete. You may do it ahead up until this point and hold it (refrigerated if it will be longer than an hour) until serving time.

5. When it’s time to serve, bring the sauce to a simmer and add the oysters. With a big spoon, stir them into the sauce to avoid breaking them. Bring the sauce back to a simmer and cook until the oysters are curly at the edges.

Serve the oysters over slices of toast or in a small ramekin, topped with chopped parsley.

Serves eight appetizers or four entrees.

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