Gear up for Mardi Gras next week with this classic New Orleans-style dish – fried oysters.
This recipe gets some heat from the cayenne pepper, but if you like it hotter, kick it up a notch with up a little extra cayenne.
These are good all by themselves, hot out of the fryer with a little squeeze of fresh lemon juice or dunked into a side of cocktail sauce. (Serve guests their own ramekin of cocktail sauce and put out some hot sauce on the side, so each can doctor it to their own level of heat.) Or to really channel that Mardi Gras feeling, turn them into oyster po’boys: Stuff hoagie rolls with fried oysters (at least six per roll), lettuce, tomato, and a good squeeze of tartar sauce. And let the good times at the table roll.
3/4 cup fine-ground cornmeal
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. Cayenne pepper
1 pound shucked Oysters , in their liquor (about 45 oysters)
5 – 6 cups peanut or vegetable oil
Heat the oven to 200 degrees.
In a large, shallow dish, mix together cornmeal, flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne. In a separate, medium bowl, combine all oysters with their liquor (juices) and remove any bits of shell. Using a slotted spoon, scoop up about 8 oysters, briefly allowing the excess liquor to drip off, and scatter them across the cornmeal mixture. Shake the dish to coat the oysters evenly with cornmeal mixture. Transfer the oysters to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining oysters.
Heat 1 inch of oil in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over high heat until the oil reaches a temperature of 400 degrees. Drop 1/3 of the breaded oysters (about 15 oysters) in the hot oil. Using a wire skimmer, stir and poke at the oysters as they fry to prevent them from fusing together. Adjust the heat as necessary to keep the oil at 400 degrees. Remove the oysters from the hot oil with the wire skimmer when they have turned golden brown and the frying has slowed, about 1 minute.
Transfer the oysters to a plate lined with several layers of paper towel, then transfer to oven to keep warm. Return the oil to 400 degrees and repeat with remaining oysters. Serve with lemon wedges or dipping sauce.