November is the time of hearty dinners that stick to your ribs. Savory pies fit into that category and one interesting one involves oysters. It's a British staple, not unlike the famed stargazey pie of Cornwall.The dish is a nice alternative to traditional meat pies yet still homey and filling.
David Tanis decided to try his hand at it and wrote about it in his A City Kitchen column in yesterday's New York Times Food section. His is a take on the classic English fish pie. This is an easy cook.It's basically repurposing left over fish as filling or briefly poaching fresh fish chunks in milk. This is the base for the pie's gravy that gives it a briny creaminess. British home cooks also use prawns and other shellfish.These can be seen as a little too posh for some home chefs. Oysters are a good choice. Mr. Tanis thought he could give it a Southern spin with moistening the shucked shellfish in milk or cream and the baked with a crust of crushed Saltine crumbs. Another influence was Yankee oyster stew.This is flavored with bacon and onions.He also thought of making an oyster chowder, still with spuds but with the addition of leeks.In the end, he made a pie with all these influences. It became richer with creme fraiche,,along with the leeks and bacon. Thyme was also thrown into the mix for a nice herbal taste.The recipe is simpler than what's on the Internet. Those recipes are laden with too many veggies and spices or made with prebaked pie shells which can get soggy ith the sauce while baking.
For home chefs attempting the dish remember to get shucked oysters. These can be bought by the pint at your local fishmonger's or grocery store. Mr. Tannis suggests three t four oysters per person so figure twelve to fifteen to suit a family or small dinner party.Home chefs can shuck the oysters or have ti done at the store. Also, fresh oysters can be kept a week in the fridge however their fresh taste elevates the pie. It is a dish of all sorts of flavors, from farm to sea..It's heavily dairy with creme fraiche and heavy cream being the basis of the sauce. Leeks contribute a sweet flavor that is a nice for the shellfish' brininess Along with the thyme, Mr. Tanis add a dash of cayenne pepper along with whole grain French mustard. The crust is a combination of crispy and hearty. The first layer is mounds of buttery mashed Yukon Golds.smoothed over the oyster mixture. Now for the crunch, taken from those Southern oyster dishes, , He sprinkles bread crumbd and Parmesan over the mash , along with dots of butter. Parsley is the finishing touch , sprinkled on for color. it bakes for forty minutes in a hot 375 degree Farenheit oven. Serve it with a green salad for a perfect dinner.
An oyster pie is a nice hearty meal ,perfect for a chill November night. It's a blend of creaminess and brininess, mixing farm and sea perfectly. Make one and enjoy the marriage of tastes and textures.