Fried oysters with creamed spinach

Be brave for these beloved bivalves

Originally appeared in the January 12, 2012 edition of the Southside Times.

In the Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens’s Samuel Pickwick comments that “poverty and oysters seems to go together.”  Yet in our current culinary zeitgeist, oysters are a delicacy (particularly the raw variety), often associated with more cosmopolitan eating scenes.  But it might just be an issue of bravery.  For it was a brave man, wrote Jonathan Swift, that first ate an oyster.  People are eager to try something exotic, particularly here in the Midwest.  Read more here:Personally, I have a fondness for raw oysters on a half shell.  The mere sight of them—a dozen or so resting on a bed of crushed ice, complimented with fresh horseradish and a simple lemon wedge—reminds me of coastal vacations, of temperate breezes, of sunset dinners on quaint piers.

But the first time I tried an oyster, it was deep-fried.  This was when I was a line cook at a local, well-to-do country club, and I understood this was the sous chef’s riff on the classic oysters Rockefeller.  This creamed spinach recipe plays a rich supporting role to the delicate breading of the fried oysters.

So don’t be squeamish.  Oysters are neither strictly for the impoverished nor the posh.  In fact, these beloved bivalves are actually pretty unpretentious.  Be brave.

Fried oysters with creamed spinach

Serves 3 – 4

  • 12 – 16 raw shelled oysters
  • ¾ cup Drake’s seasoned fry mix
  • ¼ cup cornmeal
  • As needed, peanut oil for frying
  • 2 slices thick-cut smoked bacon, cut into chunks
  • ¼ white onion, small dice
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup Pernod
  • 8 ounces heavy cream
  • 1, 10-ounce package chopped spinach, drained
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • To taste, kosher salt and cracked black pepper

1.  In a high-sided pot, heat oil to 350° F. (use a candy thermometer to maintain temperature).  In a separate pan over medium-high heat, cook bacon.  When bacon is crispy and browned, remove from pan and rest on a paper towel-lined plate.  Pour render fat into a safe container and reserve.  Using a bit of the rendered fat, sauté onion until translucent.  Add in the flour (adjust fat you if you need to) and make a paste (this is called a roux).  Add in Pernod and allow to cook down momentarily.  Pour in heavy cream, stirring as you go; bring to simmer.  Return bacon pieces to the pan.  Add in drained spinach and bring back to a gentle simmer.  Remove from heat.

2.  Combine Drake’s mix with cornmeal in a bowl.  In small batches, dredge the oysters in the dry mixture, and carefully float into fryer oil.  Allow the oysters to cook until golden brown (it won’t take long), remove from oil and drain on a paper towel.  Serve crispy oysters with warm creamed spinach.

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  1. […] Your Oyster Recipe of the Day: Fried Oysters with Creamed Spinach. Clint Smith at Cooking with Clint, makes a delicious creamed spinach with bacon (and a splash of Pernod), and piles deep-fried oysters on top. Dare we call it creamed spinach Rockefeller?  GET THE RECIPE […]

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