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Oyster Recipes

Derry~Londonderry was built because of its proximity to food. In particular, food from the Foyle. The Foyle is a great natural resource featuring many streams and rivers which start in the Sperrin and Donegal mountains and flow into the Lough and out into the Atlantic Ocean. This great waterway has been a gateway for famine ships, travelling monks, armies and exports of many foods produced locally to other worlds for centuries. Local people have for many years trawled the harsh seas around the North West in search of catch as varied as herring, salmon, turbot and the vast array of shellfish found along the shore of Lough Foyle. The Lough Foyle Irish Flat Oyster has been the pearl in the Foyle’s crown.

For Emmett McCourt, food has been a constant journey of love and passion for over two decades. His culinary career began 24 years ago at the NI Hotel and Catering College, Portrush. Since then he has travelled the world working in the kitchens of some of the world’s finest restaurants, luxury cruise liners and hotels alongside some of the world’s greatest chefs, including international names such as the legendary Georges Paineu and Ives Thuries of France. Locally, he has had the great pleasure and honour of working and learning in the shadow of Sean Owens, Noel McMeel and the late Robbie Miller. He currently lectures at the North West Regional College and has lectured at Belfast Metropolitan College.

Feeling that the North West of Ireland was always underrated by food critics and connoisseurs in terms of food culture, Emmett decided to undertake the research and writing of his new publication – Feast or Famine – to help overturn this misconception. This decision was underscored by the realisation that he had travelled the world extensively, cooking and experiencing the local food associated with other countries yet he had never explored in any depth his native food heritage. As a result, he felt it would be interesting to source and record the provenance and history of local produce and recipes to convey the passion he holds for food and cookery from his own hometown area.

These receipes from Emmett showcase the Lough Foyle Irish Flat Oyster at its best.

Oysters & Guinness

In Ireland, Oysters are best served Au Naturel with a pint of stout!

Ingredients

1 Pint of Guinness

6 Irish Flat Oysters

A squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Method

  1. Open oysters when ready to eat.
  2. Wrap one of your hands in a tea towel and hold the oyster in it, with the flat shell facing up. Push the oyster knife into the hinge (at the narrowest end) and, using some force, wiggle the blade until the hinge gives and you can slide the blade between the shells. Lift the top shell up with the blade and sever the ligament attaching the oyster to the top shell. Remove the top shell. Keep the bottom shell upright, to avoid losing any of the juices. Slide the blade beneath the oyster to loosen it from the shell and pick out any little bits of shell from the juices.
  3. Squeeze the lemon juice on each oyster before you eat them.
  4. Serve with a cold pint of Stout
  5. Oysters are fantastic served au naturel with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. For that extra kick add a dash of McIlhenny’s Tabasco Sauce.

Oyster, Beef & Guinness Pie

Wild native Irish oysters were once readily available, especially along Ireland’s coasts during the Great Irish Famine “An Gorta Mor”. They were regarded as a poor man’s food thereafter like so much of Irelands Seafood. Oysters have made a revival worldwide fit for Kings and Queens. No better place to eat them than from the home of the best seafood in the world!

This pie is a great winter warmer. Once a poor man’s dinner it now graces our tables with elegance. The beef, oyster and stout are perfect together. This pie was originally made with suet pastry, but goes just as well with puff or short crust pastry. A real Irish food heritage dish just like Granny used to make.

Ingredients

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

1 medium onion peeled and chopped

500 g braising or stewing beef, diced

1 pint of stout, Guinness

1 clove of garlic peeled and chopped

2 bay leaves

1 small bunch of fresh thyme picked

1 teaspoon of tomato paste

2 table spoons of corn flour and water to thicken (if using stock)

Salt and pepper to season

1lt beef stock or gravy

8 Irish Flat Oysters, cleaned.

Broighter Gold Rapeseed oil for frying

2 puff pastry or short crust pastry sheets

1 egg yolk mixed with a little water

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy based Sauced pan or casserole dish. Add the diced beef, chopped carrots, onion, garlic and herbs to the saucepan or casserole dish. Colour them over a medium heat for a few minutes.
  2. Pour in the stout and stock or beef gravy. If the meat isn’t completely covered in liquid, add some water or extra stout until it’s just covered. Bring to the boil.
  3. Make a paste with the corn flour and water if using beef stock. Stir in the corn flour paste when simmering.
  4. When boiling, put on the lid and place on top of the stove on a medium heat to simmer or place in the lower part of the oven for 2-3 hours. Stir occasionally. The meat is done when it is about to fall apart. Leave to cool for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven at 180oC
  6. When the beef stew is cooled mix in the oysters.
  7. Line a pie dish with the first sheet of pastry.
  8. Ladle the beef stew into the pie dish ¾ of the way up the pastry.
  9. Brush the egg wash along the edges of the pastry base.
  10. Place the other sheet of pastry on top and crimp the edges by using your thumb or a fork so the pastry lid is closed tightly.
  11. Decorate the pie lid if you like and egg wash generously before putting into the oven.
  12. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
  13. The pie should be nice and golden when ready.

Angels on Horseback

Angels on Horseback is a classic oyster dish that is usually served as an appetizer. It is made here with another Legenderry local food, William Grant’s Streaky Bacon.

Ingredients

3 Irish Flat Oysters, shucked (per portion)

3 Thin slices of Grants Streaky Bacon

A squeeze of lemon juice

Rapeseed Oil for frying

Skewers for presentation

Method

  1. Wrap a slice of bacon around each oyster and secure with a skewer.
  2. Fry the bacon-wrapped oysters in a pan or barbeque grill until they’re crispy, on both sides (about 6 -8 minutes).
  3. Squeeze the lemon juice on the oysters just before serving.

Oysters Rockefeller

This oyster dish takes its origins from the ‘new world’ and the melting pot of other cultures.

Oysters Rockefeller, one of New Orleans’ most famous dishes, was created in 1899 by Jules Alciatore, son of the founder of Antoine’s Restaurant. Named after John D. Rockefeller, the tycoon, it’s a dish of baked oysters on the half shell topped with a rich (like Rockefeller) sauce and served on a bed of rock salt.

Ingredients

100g of butter

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

2 bunches of scallions, finely chopped.

1 bunch of fresh parsley, fine chopped

3 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce

1 teaspoon Tabasco Sauce

1/2 teaspoon Pernod

500g of fine bread crumbs

1 dozen Irish Flat Oysters in their shells

Rock salt

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a large frying pan and add the celery, scallions and parsley. Sauté for 5 minutes and then add the Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce. Cook without colour for a few minutes.
  2. Add the Pernod and bread crumbs. Cook for a further 3 minutes then remove the pan from the heat and transfer the mixture to a bowl and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour, until cold but not firmly set.
  3. Shuck oysters. Discard the top shells. Scrub and dry the bottom shells. Drain the oysters.
  4. Arrange several oyster shells in baking pans lined with about 1 inch of rock salt. Arrange pans in advance, if desired. Place 1 oyster in each shell.
  5. Heat oven to 180c.
  6. Remove the chilled Rockefeller topping from the refrigerator and beat it with an electric mixer to evenly distribute the butter and infuse air into the mixture; transfer the mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain nozzle. Pipe a tablespoon of the mixture onto each oyster, then bake in an oven at 180c for 5 to 8 minutes.
  7. Allow about 6 oysters for each guest. If possible, bake these in batches of 6 in oven-safe pans, so each person can be served a pan of hot Oysters Rockefeller right out of the oven.

For step by step instructions for opening oysters click here

For more information on Aquaculture and Shellfisheries click here

For more information on Emmett McCourt and the Irish Food Heritage Project click here