Armed with the pound of Benton bacon I bought and the benne seeds and bennecake flour that arrived last Friday plus sixteen East coast oysters I bought today, I looked forward to tonight's dinner of Brown Oyster Stew with Benne, a la Sean Brock and Heritage. It occurred to me while at the seafood counter that I'd never shucked an oyster, but we have Kevlar gloves because of an incident between Tom and a clam, and I knew a quick web search would yield reams of helpful tutorials.
As it turns out, shucking oysters isn't hard at all. I was happy to have my hands properly armored and to have yet another reason to use the cheap paring knife T and I bought in New York before we were even married; a long ago pry popped the tip off, and since then it's been our ice-pick and disjoiner of choice for any sort of kitchen job. It lost a bit more blade this evening, but the oysters were impressive adversaries, so I didn't mind in the least.
Indeed, as they gripped their shells with nearly maternal ferocity, I felt a tinge of sad, a good bit of admiration and a great deal of appreciation. As I often do with each worm I unearth in the garden, I thanked every oyster for contributing to my meal. A neat animal to be sure.
I diced and cooked the bacon down, added onions and then two Anson Mills' flours-the bennecake and fancy white- to make a roux. Into that went the reserved oyster liquor and some homemade chicken stock I had in the freezer. Lemon, Tabasco, the oysters and voila. A lovely stew which I served atop Carolina Gold rice and dressed with benne seeds and parsley.
My only error was not bringing the roux to a dark enough golden brown. The implication of that of course being that the final product lacked color and looked like beige gravy. Egads! Visually subpar, but the taste was marvelous.
I roasted some thick but not woody asparagus with lemon and olive oil to go alongside, and T made Bourbon-shrub cocktails too. We supped well, caught up on our days (Oliver lost both the 4' cheetah and 8' alligator today because of some unimpressive listening; I was accused of "destwoying" his home as he sleeps under them both instead of blankets.) and then laughed our arses off while watching Real Time from last Friday. I'm so happy you're back, Bill.