A Holiday Dish That Might Just Change Your Mind About This Showy Shellfish
Before we know it, the holidays will be upon us. Our holiday table — whether we’re on the road or at home — always includes some traditional family favorites. But I also try to offer at least one special dish that gives a “Wow” to the meal. And this one will have your guests coming back for more: Baked Oysters with Italian Breadcrumbs.
Jimella Lucas’ Baked Oysters with Italian Breadcrumbs
|Fresh shucked oysters (3-5 per person for
an entrée; retain shells for baking/broiling)
Italian breadcrumbs (see recipe below)
Grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place each oyster in a half shell and top with 1 tablespoon of the Italian breadcrumb mixture and a squeeze of lemon. Drizzle with clarified butter and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Bake or place under broiler for 3 to 4 minutes (breadcrumbs may burn if placed too close to the flame).
1 clove fresh garlic
2 slices day-old bread
2 sprigs fresh parsley
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
In a food processor or blender, grind garlic, and add both slices of day-old bread until finely ground. Add sprigs of parsley without stems, grated Parmesan cheese and a dash Tabasco sauce.
Yields 1½ cups of crumbs.
If you’re not an oyster fan, you may be saying “yuck.” However, this is an oyster dish that just might change your mind. The recipe was conceived by iconic Northwest chef, Jimella Lucas, who for 25 years owned and operated the famous Ark Restaurant on the Washington coast. The dish combines the flavors of butter, lemon and Parmesan cheese with chewy, garlicky homemade Italian breadcrumbs. When paired with the slightly briny flavor of fresh oysters, it’s a dish that’ll have you shouting “Happy holidays!”
The holiday months are the perfect time for this baked oyster dish. It calls for freshly shucked oysters and, as the weather cools ocean waters, oysters are at their best. While oyster stuffing is traditional in many families, Lucas’ Baked Oysters with Italian Breadcrumbs are more versatile. You can pair them with a glass of bubbly as an appetizer or serve them as a side dish, or even as a decadent entrée. While the dish is rich, you may be surprised at how quickly your guests gobble up these little gems of the sea. If you’re serving them as an appetizer, plan for two to three oysters per person; as an entrée, three to five.
Perhaps best of all, this is an easy dish that anyone can make, even in a modest RV kitchen. It calls for just a few ingredients and it’s quick to fix. If you’re on the road, sourcing fresh oysters at local oyster farms, seafood markets, or even gathering them yourself makes for a fun outing.
Food writer James Beard wrote that he had never seen anyone who “glorified the great gifts from the sea” like Chef Jimella Lucas. Sadly, Chef Lucas passed away in 2013, but you can still order her famous Baked Oysters at Nanci & Jimella’s Café & Cocktails in Ocean Park, Washington (http://jimellaandnancis.com).
Or, try your hand at making them yourself.