Tuesday, June 09, 2009

My Mother's Southern Kitchen: Aunt Toot's Oyster and Almond Pie

So I decided that it was time for me to make some dishes that reminded me of the South.  Now note, I have never eaten any of these dishes previously.  So they are not treasured family heirlooms or any of that.  I just felt like I wanted something that was quite obviously southern.  So I hiked all the way to Chinatown to procure a quart of oysters to make this very southern oyster pie.  And then I proceeded to put one spoon of it in my mouth and make the kid yuck face.  You've seen it.  Where the kid is afraid to swallow and afraid to spit it out, so they just sit there with this look of misery and horror on their face?  Now, this has nothing to do with this casserole, per se.  It definitely has something to do with the fact that I am not southern enough to enjoy oysters, apparently.

Aunt Toot's Oyster and Almond Pie
From My Mother's Southern Kitchen by James Villas

⅓ cup slivered almonds
2 cups crushed soda crackers
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Sea salt and cayenne pepper to taste
1 quart freshly shucked oysters, liquor reserved
⅓ cup dry sherry
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup half-and-half

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

To toast the almonds, spread them evenly on a baking sheet and bake, stirring several times, till slightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes.  Set aside.

In a bowl, combine the crackers, nutmeg, and salt and cayenne pepper and mix well.  In another bowl, mix together the reserved oyster liquor, sherry, and Worcestershire.  In a 2-quart baking dish, arrange alternate layers of seasoned crackers and oysters, drizzling the oyster liquor mixture over each layer, dotting each layer with pieces of butter, and finishing with a layer of crackers dotted with butter.  Pour the half-and-half around the sides and bake 20 minutes.  Scatter the reserved almonds on top, baste with a little of the cooking liquid, and bake till the top is nicely browned but the pie is still moist, about 10 minutes longer.  Serve hot.

Makes 6 servings

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