If you’re partying at home on New Year’s Eve (and then sleeping off your hangover on New Year’s Day), you have two, very different meals to plan. Leading up to midnight, you’ll need to supply your guests with elegant appetizers, and oysters are always your best bet; which is why we’re sharing our favorite recipe for delicious, bite-sized Oyster Vol-au-vents — cream-rich bites of mineral shellfish, enclosed in buttery pastry cases.
The next morning, on the other hand, elegance is out the window — you’ll need something filling and fattening and you’ll need it fast, in order to combat that encroaching champagne headache. So if you still have some oysters sitting around (not that we can imagine ever leaving any oysters around), throw them into crispy omelet known as the Hangtown Fry; invented during the California Gold Rush in the 1850’s, when a rich prospector asked a local hotel to whip him up the most expensive dish they could provide. Sounds like a lucky (not to mention tasty) way to start the New Year, right?
24 small, fresh oysters
1 cup of milk
1 small bay leaf
2 thin slices of onion
5 black peppercorns
1 small celery rib, sliced
2 tablespoons of butter
1 1⁄2 tablespoons of flour
Salt to taste
Ground white pepper, to taste
1 pinch of nutmeg
24 puff pastry cases (defrosted)
1 tablespoon of chopped chives
Directions: Pat the oysters dry with paper towels and set aside. Prepare béchamel sauce by combining the milk, bay leaf, onion, peppercorns and celery in a small, heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat, until bubbles form around the edge of the saucepan. Remove from the heat and stand at room temperature for 15 minutes to cool. Strain and reserve the milk.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan until hot and bubbling. Add the flour and stir constantly for one minute. Remove from the heat and gradually add the milk, whisking constantly to avoid the sauce from becoming lumpy. Return the saucepan to the heat and cook the sauce, stirring constantly on a medium-high heat until it comes to the boil and thickens. Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Preheat the oven to 400º. Place puff pastry cases on a baking sheet, and spoon one teaspoon of béchamel sauce into the base of each case. Top with an oyster and spoon over a little extra béchamel sauce. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp and hot. Just before serving, sprinkle with chopped chives.
1 tablespoon of milk
1⁄4 teaspoon of salt
1 dash of ground black pepper
1⁄8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1⁄3 cup of fresh oysters
1⁄4 cup of flour
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of finely chopped parsley
3 slices of bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
Directions: Combine first five ingredients, and beat until yolks and whites are just mixed. If the oysters are large, cut into bite sized pieces. Pat dry, and dust with flour. Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat and add butter. Fry the oysters for 30 seconds per side.
Add egg mixture. As eggs firm, carefully lift the edges to allow uncooked mixture to flow under the omelet onto the pan. When omelet is firm, cover with a plate, and invert the omelet onto the plate. Garnish with parsley and crumbled bacon.