‘Tis the season to share another one of my favorite holiday recipes with you, Miniature Oyster Patties. These savory little bite-size pastries have been making the rounds at New Orleans Christmas parties and weddings for as long as I can remember. And once you taste them, you’ll understand why they’re so popular. Now when you read through the ingredient list, you’ll probably notice similarities to my family’s Oyster Dressing recipe. The two are actually so close that I had to call my mom prior to making the Oyster Dressing for Thanksgiving to help me figure out which one was which. I’ve since created a degree or two of separation by tweaking the family Oyster Patties recipe with more green onions, a smidgen of thyme and some heavy cream. Hopefully mom approves. If you’re not into oysters, try shrimp, crabmeat or crawfish instead. You can also fill the shells with a spinach and artichoke mixture or some type of meaty filling. Really, anything goes.
What makes today’s finger food so unique are the mini-patty shells. The shells are actually tiny puff pastries sold by the dozen at various bakeries and grocery stores throughout New Orleans. If you’re outside the area, call ahead to see if your local bakery shop makes them (some fancy bakeries may call them vol-au-vents). If not, you can place an order for overnight delivery with several New Orleans bakeries including Haydel’s, Swiss Confectionery and Gambino’s. Pepperidge Farm sells the large ones in the freezer section of most grocery stores, but they leave you with too much filing and not enough pastry. I suggest you plan ahead and get the miniature ones. They’re more fun to serve and eat.
For some strange reason, I always associate cooked oysters with champagne even though I’m not a big champagne drinker. But guess what? There’s a relatively new style of beer in town–a “Bière de Champagne” or “Bière Brut”–which is basically beer processed and packaged like champagne, cage and all. This evening, I’ll be trying Infinium, Sam Adams’ Bière de Champagne (The Boston Beer Company, Boston, MA). It was introduced last year and has a limited holiday release. I’m not sure I’m going to like it, but it’s worth a try!
Until next week …
Miniature Oyster Patties Recipe
1 pint oysters (reserve oyster liquor)
1 1/2 sticks butter
2 bunches green onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons Wondra Gravy Flour
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup reserved oyster liquor (or part oyster liquor and part water)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
Salt and black pepper to taste
3 dozen miniature patty shells (puff pastry shells)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Strain oysters over a bowl to remove grit and separate them from the oyster liquor; reserve liquor. Chop oysters and set aside. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add green onions and garlic; cook until tender, 3-5 minutes. Add flour; cook, stirring constantly, until bubbly (that’s your white roux). Add oysters, cream, reserved oyster liquor, parsley, thyme and cayenne pepper; cook an additional 10 minutes. Remove mixture from heat; add bread crumbs and salt and pepper to taste. The consistency should be creamy but not runny. Place patty shells on a large baking sheet. Spoon mixture evenly into patty shells and bake until golden brown and bubbly, 10-12 minutes. Cool slightly before serving. Makes 36 Miniature Oyster Patties.