Recipe of the Month
By Ken McFarland
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Not long ago during an oyster conversation with some friends, I mentioned an excursion I once made to Outz’s (pronounced Oot-ses), a gas station near St. Mark’s Lighthouse in the Florida Panhandle that also happened to have a small oyster bar tucked in the rear. A hand-lettered sign listed the establishment’s assortment of domestic beers, which included everything from Miller to Bud, by which I mean Outz’s had Miller, and they had Bud. The oyster menu was more varied. You had your raw, your steamed, and, somewhat surprisingly, your Oysters Rockefeller. Out of what can only be described as morbid curiosity, or perhaps a death wish, I ordered the Oysters Rockefeller. Mr. Outz asked if I was from the Health Department, grunted when I said no, then pulled out a can of spinach, a squeeze tube of Easy Cheese, and a Soviet-era microwave oven. The original Oysters Rockefeller was invented in a New Orleans restaurant in 1899 as a substitute for French snails, a delicacy in short supply at the time. The new dish—steamed oysters on the half shell topped with an exotic green sauce—was an immediate hit. The only thing known for certain about the secret recipe was that the sauce, the color of money (and hence the name Oysters Rockefeller), did NOT include spinach. What it DID have, scientists later discovered after laboratory analysis done in the 1980s, for some reason, was a mix of parsley, celery, scallions, olive oil, and capers—none of which were present in whatever I was served that long-ago day at Outz’s. One of my friends, Ken McFarland, clearly moved by my story, or perhaps in a pique of one-upmanship, recently sent me an oyster recipe of his own, a family concoction that I share with you now. I haven’t tried it yet and can vouch for nothing. —Steve Watkins)
* 12 oysters from contaminated waters (much cheaper).
* 1 clothes pin to put on nose.
* 1 cup Blue Bonnet margarine.
* 10 packs of Nabs. Crumbled. (Must be true Nabs. Available from Mabel’s House of Nabs, Ninety-Six, SC. Her motto: “They may not be fresh, but with real Nabs it’s worth the staleness.”)
* 1/2 block Velveeta.
* 20 large dashes of Texas Pete, to taste. (Alternately, just break neck off Texas Pete and pour in whole bottle.)
* 40 packets of salt and pepper rescued from a old Chicken-in-a-Basket restaurant. (Search out rusting neon signs surrounded by poke weed.)
* 1 16 oz. can of favorite store brand collards. (Hint: Look for swollen can tops. This guarantees best collard flavor.)
* 1 cup Southern Comfort.
1. Given source and age of oysters, no need to shuck. They un-shuck themselves.
2. Chug down Southern Comfort and toast Janis Joplin.
3. Mix other ingredients in a skillet, adding more Southern Comfort and Texas Pete to taste.
4. Sprinkle 9 packs of Nab crumbs on mixture, saving one pack Nabs for dessert.
5. Sauté or broil or use acetylene torch to get stuff hot.
6. Place oysters in 1/2 shell on a piece of roofing tin (rust enhances oyster flavor) with edges crimped up to hold juices.
7. Pour skillet mixture over oysters.
8. Lick skillet.
9. Broil oysters for two minutes at 800 degrees.
10. Give one cooled oyster to dog. If dog eats oyster and can still stand, give one to partner. (Have emergency vet/ER numbers handy.)
11. If partner eats it and still stands, go for ‘em!
12. Side Note: I’m also working at an “on-a-stick” version of this recipe using skewers made of fat wood from Lois’s Lightwood Emporium (pronounced “Light-ud”) in Lasker, NC, my grandmother’s home town. The Lightwood sticks allow for cooking the oysters from the inside out.
13. Alternately, throw everything out, swig more Southern Comfort, and go to Long John Silvers for a proper seafood dinner.
***Ken McFarland. who reports for Pie & Chai from small town Vermont, was born in Martinsville, VA and grew up in Durham, NC. His place of death has yet to be determined.