Johnny's Half Shell offers this as a main course at lunch, but it would also make an inspired dinner entree, served with a citrusy green salad to cut the richness of the bacon and cream.
New Orleans-style French bread is the kind that's used for po' boy sandwiches. Look for a loaf that's at least 16 inches long and about the width of a sub sandwich roll -- not a thin baguette. If necessary, use two ciabatta rolls or other good-quality sandwich-style rolls and trim the ends to yield 8-inch-long loaves.
- 1 loaf New Orleans-style French bread
- 4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- 2 slices uncooked bacon, cut into small dice
- 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
- 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
- 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
- 4 ounces mushrooms, stemmed and cut into quarters or slices
- 24 shucked oysters and their liquor
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- Tabasco sauce
- Freshly ground black pepper
Slice the bread in half lengthwise, then slice each length into halves, to make four pieces that are each about 8 inches in length. Spread each piece with 1 teaspoon of the butter on the cut side. Griddle the bread in a cast-iron grill pan or other heavy-bottomed pan over medium-low heat until lightly browned. Transfer each piece to a serving plate.
Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a large saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until it sizzles. Increase the heat to high and add the onion, green pepper, celery and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables become translucent, about 3 minutes; then add the mushrooms and cook until they become lightly colored, about 2 minutes.
Add the oysters (reserving their liquor), cayenne pepper, thyme and rosemary. Cook until the oysters begin to curl, about 1 minute.
Add the reserved oyster liquor, cream, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce to taste. Cook for several minutes, until the oysters are cooked through and sauce is creamy and coats a spoon. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the mixture over the bread, dividing the oysters equally.
If the oysters are cooked before the sauce is thick enough, remove them from the sauce, placing 6 oysters on each slice of bread. Spoon the sauce over them when it is ready.
From Ann Cashion, chef and co-owner of the Capitol Hill restaurant.
Tested by Nicole Schofer.
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