Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bacon and Oyster Pot Pie, a Cold Weather Seafood Treat

Ok the Holiday's are over and we are well into January. Now during this cold and unforgiving time of year if you are like me, you like nothing better than to hunker down, and eat some warm and comforting food in this winter weather. If you don't live in a northern clime you still can enjoy food like this but it's not quite the same thing. When it's really cold out there's nothing like yummy warm comfort dishes. And there's nothing like some Pot Pie that says comfort food. And this Pot Pie was born of the holidays but it would be good anytime you wanted to have it. Especially in this Winter weather.

So Oysters, let's talk about oysters. When I go to Charleston for the holidays I always enjoy a New Years Eve feast with Oysters. Creamed Oysters or what is called Oyster Stew in the Low Country to be precise.. I know many people do indeed think of Oysters and Oyster Stew as a dish that is made typically for Christmas Eve dinner. But in my house we have it on New Years Eve because on Christmas Eve we have another tradition. And if there is a time for traditions it would be the Holidays.

Truly the holidays are really always special to me because of the people involved. Since my Father's death we have the tradition of spending every Christmas Eve with our very close family friends who are my adopted "Aunt and Uncle". We have a great time at their house. There is always a good mix of folks at the house when we return from Christmas Eve services. There are some relatives down from Columbia and other close friends from church thrown into the mix. Young and old enjoy the evening together and there's lots of good, good, good old Southern Holiday fare. The buffets groans under squash and vegetable casseroles, cooked greens, hot yeast rolls with salted butter. There's always a grand Holiday Ham, and lots of other goodies. There's a pecan pie and either coconut cake or chess pie or some other incredible southern sweet thing. And as the evening progresses we will hear a political discussion, holiday stories and family chatter. The meal always begins with a heartfelt and eloquent prayer. But what I love the most is just lots of story telling, catching up with each other and laughing. Well at least the laughing in the kitchen where I usually sit with the younger folks. Meaning the younger people with kids who have sent their kids off to the real kids table in another room.

Now my"cousin" Renee is married to a man named Bill. He's an amazing person. And he is a very very Southern person. One of those people who would I would best describe as a Southern gentleman. I think people that did not grow up in the South have the wrong idea of what the term "Southern Gentleman" actually means.

When we say southern gentleman it usually brings to mind someone with good manners and a deep Southern accent. Well Bill has a deep Southern accent and he definitely has good manners but that's not what makes him a Southern Gentleman. No he's a smart fellow, highly educated, well read, well traveled here and abroad, opinionated, deeply rooted in family, community and work.

He's a renaissance man. An architect by trade he works with some of the areas top developers and projects,  He's very modern, and current but also deeply rooted in his heritage. Not confined to the city he loves all things outdoors. When he is not working he will most likely be found with his youngest son out hunting or fishing in the creek. I know many Saturdays for them start out in the boat, hanging with our minister, some bait and whole lot of cold beer. Telling stories and catching fish. Or maybe just telling fish tales.

He is teaching his children to value the South and their life in it. Not just cultural things, but natural things. The land, the water, the air. To value the ocean life, animals and the plants. To understand the human element in all of that and the human responsibility towards it. He is passing on his love of sports and the community that is born out of it in the South. I mean we love out football down here.

He is passing on what he learned growing up and what he has come to believe as an adult to his children. That living involves understanding where you come from, honoring other people, being engaged in your community, having faith in what's beyond, working hard, and giving of one's time and attention to those you love.  Not in a monetary way, but in a get up and do for you sort of way. I admire him. He's a good guy. And that is indeed a Southern gentleman.

He's also a great story teller. One of my favorites involves our Minister who had recently lost his second wife after a long illness.

Seems Bill thought that it would benefit the church checkbook if he dug the grave in the church yard instead of hiring a company to do it. Well while he was down there digging he noticed that the reverend's plot was large enough to hold up to four graves. Now the reverend's first wife was already buried there. The second was coming in and he thought he would be cheeky given his friendship and tell the reverend that he could go ahead and get another wife. Because clearly there was enough room for both him and all three wives.

Well upon hearing this news the reverend turned to him and in his deep southern drawl said.
"Bill, let me tell you something. You know when my first wife died that was sad. And you know that as hard as this illness was on all of us including me, I am sad that my second wife has passed as well. But just so you know. Since my wife died, there have been more than a few ladies who have turned up  at my door several nights in  row with casseroles wanting to comfort me. And let me tell you something mister. After having had two wives. Dealing with all I have had to deal with concerning both those women in life and death. Well Bill, let me put it this way meaning no disrespect to any of those ladies that showed up to comfort me....But there might as well have been condoms in those casseroles those women showed up at my door with. Because that's about how interested I am in ever having another wife!"

"But Bill, thanks for pointing that out. I be sure to sell off the other parcel, I could really use the money!"

Yep. That's my kind of southern home spun story told around the dinner table on Christmas Eve. Just love it.

So getting back to Oysters and New Year's Eve traditions. It's a real low country thing, Creamed Oysters or Oyster Stew. A dish I have made on this blog before. Succulent and sweet right from the waters on the Carolinas, this dish is simple decadent and delicious. But this year I decided to do something a little different. I decided to follow and article I had read in a popular Southern Magazine and of course changed their idea a little bit and came up with this riff on Creamed Oysters. Well it was good. It was so good that my Mama said we should just make this from now on!

And now I will share it with you. If you like Oysters and Bacon you must make this before the weather changes although I imagine this would be good any time of year. It's comfort seafood at at's best. Hope you enjoy it Ya'll!

Oyster and Bacon Pot Pie
makes 6 - 12 ounce individual pot pies

1 qt of drained Oysters (liquor reserved)
4 to 5 slices of Applewood smoked bacon slices chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped carrots 
1/2 cup finely chopped red pepper
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon ground Mace ( if you can't find Mace use Nutmeg)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 cup seafood stock
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon garlic flavored olive oil
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cups dry vermouth
2 dashes of hot sauce
S&P to taste
2 prepared pie crusts


Cook bacon pieces in a large pot and remove from pan reserving the fat in the pot
Melt butter in sauce pot add oil
saute onions celery carrots and red pepper till softened but not wilted
add mushrooms and lightly cook
add garlic let bloom
add flour cook 2 mins
add vermouth and cook about 2 mins
add seafood stock
add spices
add into pot and stir till mixture thickens and is bubbly
add cream and reduce heat to low
taste and season if necessary
add hot sauce

Spoon mixture into the baking dishes divide Oysters between the dishes pushing them down into the sauce till covered.

On a floured board roll out pie crust and
Cut out into rounds to cover your baking dishes

Brush with egg wash ( one egg mixed with one tablespoon water)

Cover baking dishes and cut a slit if you want to get fancy cut out extra dough into fish shapes and decorate the top. Poke the top with a knife to vent.

Place on baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 mins or until crust is browned and done, serve hot.

Enjoy ya'll!!

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