Recipe Time: Fried Oyster with Cornmeal Crust and Scrambled Egg Salad

Speaking of Frank Stitt and eggs, a couple of years ago I took Dear to Bottega, one of the Stitt restaurants in Birmingham, and saw on the salad menu a fried oyster and scrambled egg salad.  I had never had a salad with scrambled eggs before (nor one with fried oysters), so I ordered it.  It was fantastic.

The salad part is pretty straightforward.  Finely chop two thick slices of bacon (good start) and cook over medium high heat until semi-crisp.  With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to drain on paper towels    Then beat 4 large eggs and add them to the pan with the bacon drippings, season with salt and pepper, and scramble them until they are just set.  Remove them from the heat — put them a plate s they don’t keep cooking and dry out.

In a bowl, toss two cups of fresh young lettuces — he doesn’t specify but I would go with, say, a mix of arugula, red leaf and Boston or just whatever comes in the plastic box — with sherry vinaigrette (which is left over from the asparagus with eggs), and season with salt and pepper.  Add the scrambled eggs and toss.

Divide the lettuce and eggs among four plates, and add the fried oysters, 4 or so per serving.

What fried oysters?  You actually start on them first, but  I delayed writing about the oysters because I don’t attempt frying food.  I live in Washington, DC, and I have a theory that it is impossible to fry food well north of Richmond.  At least it is for me.  And my Frank Stitt cookbook recipe calls for fried quail rather than fried oysters.  But I’ll give you the highlights, so you can get the cornmeal crust, which is key.

Beat one large egg in a small bowl.  Add 1 cup of buttermilk and whisk thoroughly to combine.  Combine 1/2 cup of all purpose flour and 1 cup cornmeal in a separate, larger bowl, and season the mix with salt, pepper and cayenne.   Put the oysters in the buttermilk mixture and let it sit while you take care of the rest of the salad.  See, I’ve done this backwards because I don’t fry.  Heat an inch of oil in a pan to 350 degrees.  Remove the oysters one at a time from the buttermilk mixture, and dredge each one in the flour and cornmeal mixture.  Shake off the excess and very carefully drop the oysters into the hot oil.

After a couple of minutes (3-4 minutes for quartered and deboned quail, but you be the judge: I don’t fry), remove them with your trusty slotted spoon and put them on paper towels to drain.  Then do the eggs, etc.

The recipe for quail actually calls for equal portions of four and cornmeal.  His fried oyster recipe calls for more like a 2-1 ratio, which he also uses for fried okra.  I definitely would go with 2-1.

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