Holiday Oysters

We’re continuing a Christmas tradition today at our house. I fixing baked oysters, a recipe that’s been passed down from my Grandma Menard to my mom to me. Grandma always made the dish at the holidays, usually for dinner on Christmas Day. My mom continued the tradition when Grandma became too old to host the family get-together, which was attended by 20 to 25 relatives each year.

I was thinking about those get-togethers last night when we ran into my Uncle Fritz Menard and two of his boys, Kim and Joe, at the Christmas Eve Mass at the Cathedral in Crookston.

Kim and I compared notes about holiday cooking. He had made a French pot pie earlier in the day and asked what I was cooking. I told him we were having baby back ribs, sauerkraut and mashed potatoes at Mom’s when we got home, and that on Christmas Day, we were having turkey with all the fixings, including baked oysters.

His wife, Annie, said she and Kim could eat an entire 9-by-9-inch pan of the oysters all by themselves. Kim said he was going to make some today when his family gets together in their home in Detroit Lakes, Minn.

Kim isn’t my only cousin who fixes the oyster dish at Christmas. Our cousin, Paul Hendrickson of Anchorage, Alaska, also does. I don’t know about my cousins, but every time we have the oysters, fond memories of my grandma pop into my head.

Holidays are about tradition, but one that hasn’t taken hold in our family is having oyster stew on Christmas Eve. Mom tells me when she was a child, they always had that on Christmas Eve. My great-grandpa, Rudy Burkhardt, who lived with my mom’s family in his later years, really liked were oysters. Mom says he even used to eat them raw on Christmas Eve. I’ll admit to trying oysters that way but much prefer them baked or in a stew.

Here’s a recipe for oyster stew that I may have try. Maybe it can become a family tradition. Also find the baked oyster recipe.

Oyster Stew
6 small to medium oysters, shucked
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 pat of butter
Pinch of Old Bay seasoning
2 cups half-and -half or milk
Combine the oysters and their liquor, Worcestershire, seasoning and butter. Simmer over medium heat for 2 minutes. Heat the cream separately. Pour the warmed oysters in a tureen and top with hot cream.
Yield: Serves 1 as meal, 2 as appetizer.

Baked Oysters
1 to 2 pints raw oysters, depending on your taste, reserving juice
1 cup Holland rust crackers
1 cup of butter, softened
2 cups of cracker crumbs
¼ to ½ cup half-and-half
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crush crackers and Holland rust. Add butter and mix thoroughly.
Spray a 9-by-9-inch cake pan with Pam or other vegetable oil. Layer the bottom of the pan with half the cracker mixture and then top with oysters. Add remaining cracker mixture.
Pour oyster juice and half and half over ingredients.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 to 60 minutes.

One thought on “Holiday Oysters

  1. On the baked oysters, I make mine a little different. I mix 1/4 cup melted butter, l cup Milk, 1/4 cup flour, and juice from 1 can oysters. Drain 2 cans oysters, plus the other drained can and add to other mixture. I add enough crushed saltine crackers so the mixture is quite thick. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours uncovered.

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