This did not go as expected. And, except for portioning problems (sorry, hon), I really can't take any blame for it.
I had gotten the oysters shucked, because it's a high-risk enterprise unless you know what you're doing. I don't. Hindsight prompts me to say that I should've risked a finger or two. The shucking fisherman put the oysters, which were now resting on their half-shells, into two styrofoam containers, the kind that you might get take-out chicken wings in, which would work perfectly for lunch in the park or to take back to the office. I wasn't doing either of those things; I was shopping, then taking the F train home. The last time I had oysters shucked, they were sans shell, and snuggled into a plastic soup container. Unless you have a personal attendant and a car with great suspension, I strongly recommend that option if you are traveling more than a block or two.
The oysters got creamed. In an act of outrageous self-mutilation, the shells, which bounced around in their container exactly like chicken wings, cut the oysters to shreds. The mollusk gloop was clinging to the sides of the containers, the tops of shells, and itself. It was not pretty, not at all.
I scooped the contents of each container onto a paper plate, not noticing that one held ten oysters, the other six. Not my problem. I could barely distinguish one injured bit of oyster from another.
No worries, though. Once they're hit with sherry and butter and cream, who'll know the difference?
Into the double boiler they went: 8 oysters (or so I thought); tablespoon butter; dash celery salt; teaspoon Worcestershire sauce; 2 tablespoons sherry; 1/4 cup oyster liquor, except I don't have any oyster liquor because the little bastards must have sweated it off during their exertions in the styrofoam sauna, so I used 1/4 cup salty water and, no, I didn't have any clam juice handy, thanks. Cook for about a minute, until the oysters start to curl. The state they were in, they could have had a perm for all I know.
Add one cup half-and-half. Here is where the Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant Seafood Cookbook let me down with a crash: "Add half-and-half and continue stirring briskly, just to a boil. Do not boil."
The first thing wrong with this is that if you continue stirring briskly, it is going to take a long, long time to reach a boil. The second is that there is .00003 of a nanosecond between coming to a boil and boiling. Reader, I curdled it.
The finishing pat of butter and dusting of paprika did nothing to disguise that the lovely soup I had hoped to serve bore more than a passing resemblance to small-curd cottage cheese. Bruce seemed not to notice, but was quick to point out that he got only six oysters, instead of the promised eight, which meant I had ten. Which I had already eaten..
I'll make sure he gets two extra from my bowl when we have oyster stew again, something I'll be sure to remember the next time we pull up a stool at the Grand Central Oyster Bar. Hey, I don't hold a grudge.
Bleecker St. Records
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