Weekend Gourmet

Create a delectable food legacy

October 13, 2012 

Pan Roast of Oysters.

COURTESY OF FRED THOMPSON

  • Pan Roast of Oysters 2 cups heavy cream 1 sprig fresh thyme (optional, but adds another layer of flavor) Salt and pepper to taste 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 tablespoons dry white wine (I use vermouth) 8 ounces Shitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced 2 leeks, white part only, cleaned and thinly sliced 3 pints shucked oysters, with liquor 20 light-green, flat-leaf spinach leaves, cleaned, dried and cut into chiffonade ADD the heavy cream to a 3-quart saucepan no more than four hours before serving. Bring it to a slight simmer over medium heat. Cook until the cream has reduced by half. DO NOT let the cream come to a full boil. (Use a ladle as a safety device to stir the cream in case it gets too hot and begins to foam.) The reduction process will take 30 to 45 minutes. Strain the cream into a warm Thermos or double boiler and hold until ready to serve. HEAT the butter and wine in a large nonstick sauté pan. When a full boil has been reached, add the leeks and mushroom slices and sauté for 2 minutes. If doing this ahead, remove the mushrooms and any liquid. Reserve. REHEAT the mushroom-leek mixture in that large sauté pan when it’s show time, and then add the oysters. Cook over moderate heat until the oysters just begin to curl, usually about 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in the reduced cream and just barely re-warm, no more than 2 minutes. Adjust seasoning, if needed, with additional salt and pepper. Serve in warmed, shallow soup bowls. Equally divide the chiffonade of spinach over the servings. Serve immediately. SERVE WITH: If using this roast as a main course, prepare a fall salad of greens, pears, walnuts and blue cheese with sherry vinaigrette. Serve this salad in the French manner, after the pan roast. TO DRINK: Champagne always works with oysters. Muscadet de Sevre-et-Maineis is another great choice. Yield: 6 main-course servings; 10-12 servings as a first course

Do you have to be rich or famous to leave a legacy? While we seem to use the word legacy more often with the celebrated and renowned, all of us have a way to leave behind the abundance of our lives. And, if you think about it, many of those memories, or legacies, are centered on food and the celebration of life with food.

I will always treasure my family and friends through the food they lovingly prepared for me. Top of the list is my Mama’s Collard Greens (which I wrote about last November). My aunt’s cabbage and hard cornbread, a cousin’s “chicken slick” and a grapefruit salad with poppy seed dressing from Anne Haskins will fit the bill. Friends have chimed in with Pableaux Johnson’s red beans and rice and Karl Knudson’s many ways with fish. Neighbors have added as well: Linda Johnson’s mac and cheese and Rachel Thomas’s deviled eggs. All have brought me profound joy at the table.

So what will my legacy be? What about yours?

What got me thinking about this is the arrival last month of my first grandson. He’s already headed in the direction of becoming a foodie, with a chef for a father and a mother who has always enjoyed great food. So what is to be my food legacy?

Oysters, when in season, are always part of any gathering of my clan. I loved the fact that even at an early age, my daughter had no fear of a raw oyster and as an adult will fight you for them. It has pained her during her pregnancy that raw oysters were off limits. So when she’s ready, I’ll crack open a few and make her a pan roast.

This recipe has been part of the holidays for 20 years at my house. If I didn’t make it, I’d be tarred and feathered. I even had the guts to prepare this for chef Ben Barker once. There are other recipes that would be called “daddy’s or granddaddy’s recipe,” but I know that in the end this pan roast will be my food legacy to my daughter, her son and his children to come.

For any one of us to sit at a table with family, friends or colleagues is a moment of genuine sharing – the food, the stories and the lives. What will your story be on the plates of the future? I bet it will be an impressive one.

Fred Thompson is a cookbook author and publisher of Edible Piedmont. Reach him at fdtfx1@earthlink.net.

For a printable copy of the recipe, click the link:

Pan Roast of Oysters

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