Oyster Casserole is an absolute-must-have in the Saucy household for the holidays; it is that important on the holiday foods line-up. Additionally, it may very well be the single dish that sealed the deal and convinced Mr. Saucy to propose marriage all those years ago. And you can just get your mind right out of the gutter! This did not come about because of the alleged aphrodisiac effect of oysters.
Back when Mr. Saucy and I were dating, of course, I cooked for him. This was in the day when Mr. Saucy actually cooked too. As a matter of fact, on our first date, Mr. Saucy prepared dinner for me at his house; I jokingly accused him, later as we dated for a while, of continuing to date me until he’d gotten all of my best recipes. It was only after we married that Mr. Saucy was tragically struck with an incurable illness. Cooking amnesia. Woefully, the only thing he remembers how to cook now is frozen pizza. Poor darlin’.
Anyway, we had been dating for a couple of years and I was planning on cooking our Thanksgiving dinner. Mr. Saucy asked me if I had a recipe for Oyster Casserole. I told him I did and he asked me how I made it. Well, I explained to him that it was a recipe from the Low Country of South Carolina and that it wasn’t like standard oyster dressing at all (hoping he wouldn’t be disappointed). When I related how it was made, it was like the sun burst out of his eyes.
You see, the recipe was just exactly the same as how his mama made Oyster Casserole. Mr. Saucy’s mama had passed on by then and in addition to missing her terribly, he missed her Oyster Casserole. Of course, I had to make it for him. I had a bit to learn about the traditions of Oyster Casserole, though. That first time, I made up the Oyster Casserole, showed it to Mr. Saucy who then inquired, “Where’s the extras?” What I didn’t know was that Mr. Saucy’s mama always kept in reserve an extra pint of oysters for Mr. Saucy to have as a snack with cocktail sauce.
Hee! Well, lesson learned; there are always “extras” now. And the rest, as they say, is history. Mr. Saucy and I got married, and Oyster Casserole has been a part of our holiday celebrations ever since.
If you like oysters, or if you are looking for an alternative to oyster dressing, or if you’ve never had it at all, give this simple recipe a try.
- 6 cups cracker crumbs (coarse crumbled - I use a combination of saltine and Ritz crackers)
- 1½ sticks butter (12 tablespoons), melted
- 4 pints shucked oysters
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- ¾ cup oyster liquor (the juice from the oysters)
- ¼ cup half and half
- In a large bowl, combine the cracker crumbs and butter.
- In a 9 x 13' buttered casserole, put a layer of buttered crackers (use ⅓ of the crackers).
- Add a layer of oysters (using half of the oysters), sprinkle with fresh ground nutmeg, salt and pepper, and parsley.
- Add another layer of the same. Never use more than two layers of oysters.
- Top with remaining ⅓ of crackers and remaining parsley.
- In a small bowl, whisk the oyster liquor and half and half.
- Pour this mixture over the top of the ingredients in the casserole.
- At this point, the casserole may be covered and refrigerated for a couple of days before baking.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Bake the casserole for 30 minutes or until the cracker crumb top is golden brown.