The holidays have been super busy, and this year they culminated in one of the strangest Christmases we have ever had as a family. Typically, my parents come from NC to visit me. However, we had a last minute change of plans. You see, my dad decided to fall off the roof.
He claims he was cleaning the chimney for Santa's arrival. Seriously?
He didn't kill himself, but he was badly bruised and broke his heel / ankle in five places. Needless to say he couldn't make a seven hour drive, even though mom thought it would be grand to load him up on painkillers and throw him in the back of the SUV. I really don't think she wanted to cook. So for the first time ever, I bought a plane ticket and checked in the same day so that I could fly home on Christmas Eve. I even took the bows off the packages so that I could pack presents and bring them in an extra bag. Flight delays, changes in airlines, and potential luggage fees were not a deterrent for me to see my family this year! And it was my job to cook anyway.
Since they were coming to my house originally, there were bare essentials in the cupboard in NC. Mom stopped by the store on the way to pick me up at the airport so we could have Christmas Eve dinner - ham, roasted root vegetables, cranberry sauce she had already made, and asparagus in case anyone is wondering. This was all good and well, but she didn't pick up anything else for the holidays. And considering a snow storm blew in on Christmas Day, causing us to be housebound, this was a bit of an issue.
Luckily, a neighbor had brought pears, and another had sent oysters over. In a snow storm, on the deck, I proceeded for the first time ever to shuck oysters. Did I have one of those fancy knives. Um... no. I had a flat screw driver. Genius. Just what we needed was so me home-grown stitches in case I gashed my hand. And better yet, I had never fried oysters. I had very little idea of what I was doing. I decided that since I had eaten enough though, why not try. How hard could they be?
So with pure creativity, and in theme with the year, I made the oddest Christmas Day dinner yet. We started with said fried oysters (which aren't difficult at all to make), followed by pear and asiago salad, and finished with a portobello cream sauce over pasta. Thank heavens it was really good. And while my mother didn't have to cook and chose cleaning instead, let me tell you, frying is a messy past time!
The fried oysters were the best part of the meal though, and frankly, the pasta doesn't photograph very well. Here is the recipe, as best I can recall. May this become a new Christmas tradition, minus the broken leg.
the Grocery List
- 2 dozen raw oysters
- 3/4 cup course cornmeal
- 3/4 cup fine cornmeal
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 - 2 cups canola oil (amount depends on pan size)
Prepping & Cooking
Heat your oil till shimmering in a heavy pan - preferably cast iron. Be really careful that you don't have any water on your hands doing this because this oil will POP! Mix your dry goods together well. Dredge the raw oysters in the cornmeal mix, then in the buttermilk, then back in the cornmeal. Add them one by one, carefully and with your fingers, to the oil. Fry them for about 2 minutes each side, or until golden. Don't over fry because you want them tender.
For the sauce, I mixed a 2 to 1 ratio of mayo (Duke's of course) to horseradish spread. Then I tossed in some finely chopped homemade bread and butter pickles and added a pinch of cayenne. Simple tartar sauce will work or even cocktail sauce if you prefer.
Here's the finished goods. Yummy!!!! They were gone in a flash.