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Skillet-Fried Oyster Po’ Boys

Since sharing my method for restoring and seasoning cast iron pans, I’ve had my heart (and stomach) set on frying up some oysters, namely Skillet-Fried Oyster Po’ Boys. The Po’ Boy is one of those classic sandwiches, rich with history — many might claim it originated in the French Quarter of New Orleans. You’ll find several variations on this old favorite from soft shell crab to shrimp and catfish to name a few. Today we’ll concentrate on my favorite version.

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • ½ c. milk
  • Fresh-shucked oysters (a pint will yield 10-14 oysters), drained and rinsed from the jar
  • Cornmeal for dredging (seasoned with salt, pepper, and any seafood seasoning)
  • 3-4 c. of a high heat oil (peanut, safflower, sunflower, and canola oil will do)
  • Sub rolls, split and spread with mayonnaise or a spicy remoulade
  • Lettuce or red cabbage slaw


Directions:
Combine eggs and milk, whisking with a fork to break the yolk and mixing to form a thick scramble. Add the oysters, tossing to coat and place the mixture in the fridge until ready to dredge and fry.

Fill the cast iron pan ½ to ¾ full with oil and turn burner to medium high heat. Note: When using a cast iron pan, it is best when direct heat is applied from an open flame directly from a gas range, the side burner on a propane grill or campfire grate. Use caution as the oil will be very hot, most likely popping and splattering. You would really be insulting a cast iron pan on an electric burner or ceramic stove top as these do not generate the heat needed for the pan.

While the oil is heating, dredge each of the oysters, tossing to coat in the cornmeal then place on wax or parchment paper. After 8-10 minutes the oil should be heated and starting to swirl in the skillet.

Gently lay oysters in the hot oil, careful not to crowd the skillet, about 5-6 per batch. They will immediately begin to bubble at a rapid pace and float to the top of the oil. With the oil at the right temperature, 3-4 minutes per batch is the maximum cooking time, flipping each oyster at the halfway point. Continue frying in batches until all oysters are cooked, adding salt as soon as you take them out.

Fill your rolls with the fried oysters, fresh shredded lettuce or red cabbage slaw and any other fixings of your choosing. I personally like to douse each new bite with my favorite hot sauce.

One of my favorite quotes that can accurately describe my passion for oysters is from poet Léon-Paul Fargue, “I love oysters. It’s like kissing the sea on the lips.” As a young child, fried oysters were really the only way I would go. As I grew into my teens, roasting them on a grill just until the shell popped open then dipping them into a spicy cocktail sauce was the way to go. Eventually as I grew more adventurous in my culinary tastes, I realized that raw oysters are really tough to beat — whenever I travel I always seek out the local oyster bar where I can choose from the freshest offering of the day.

So I ask, what is your favorite way to enjoy oysters and what are your go-to pairing wines to complete the experience?