Flip through an oyster cookbook from the 1950s and you'll find it's chock full of oyster casseroles. Back then, oysters were eaten for sustenance as often as for adventure. This recipe harkens back to the time when oysters were just a normal Tuesday night family affair, but it also makes a darn delicious party dish. With bacon, cream, butter, garlic and cheese, it's over-the-top rich, but you won't find us complaining about that. For best results, use fresh thyme and lots of home-made bread crumbs.
Serves a crowd as an appetizer, or 4 to 6 as a main dish. Feel free to add extra of any particular ingredient, this recipe is forgiving! Be sure to drain the oysters so the dish isn't soupy.
10 oz to 16 oz shucked oysters, drained and chopped up
1 stick butter
3 shallots, diced
3/4 red pepper, diced
8 oz sliced mushrooms
3 strips bacon, fried and crumbled
1 clove garlic, diced
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup homemade bread crumbs, at least
Grease a 9x13 ovenproof dish and preheat the oven to 325 convect bake (350 regular).
Melt about 2 tbs butter in heavy casserole. Add shallots and red pepper, saute until shallots are soft. Add mushrooms, oysters, garlic, and saute for 5 minutes. Add bacon bits.
In separate pan, melt 2 tbs butter. Stir in the flour. When smooth, add the cream, whisk until boiling and thick. Stir in the cheese.
Mix the cheese mixture into the oyster mixture and season with thyme, nutmeg, paprika, salt and pepper.
Pour the mixture into the prepared dish, top with the bread crumbs, and dot with remaining butter. Bake for 10 -20 minutes, or until hot and bubbling. If needed, finish under the broiler to brown the bread crumbs.
(To make bread crumbs, butter your favorite loaf bread and toast it or bake it until dry and then whirrrr it up in the food processor).