I oversee the gardens at Colonial Williamsburg. We've learned that the colonists had a ready source of oysters from Chesapeake Bay. I enjoy this rich, creamy casserole, a special dish from this area's holiday recipe collection. —Susan Dippre, Williamsburg, Virginia
Total TimePrep: 20 min. Bake: 25 min. + standing
- 1 quart shucked oysters
- 3/4 cup butter, divided
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 1-1/2 cups chopped celery
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups half-and-half cream
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 2 cups crushed Ritz crackers (about 50 crackers)
- Lemon wedges
- Fresh thyme sprigs
- Preheat oven to 400°. Drain oysters, reserving oyster liquor; set aside. In a large saucepan, heat 1/2 cup butter over medium heat. Add onions and celery; cook and stir until tender, 4-6 minutes. Stir in flour until blended; gradually whisk in cream. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly; cook until thickened, about 2 minutes.
- Reduce heat; add next 5 ingredients and reserved oyster liquor. Cook and stir until smooth, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir a small amount of hot liquid into egg yolks; return all to pan, stirring constantly.
- Pour half the sauce into a greased 13x9-in. baking dish. Top with half the oysters; sprinkle with half the cracker crumbs. Repeat layers. Melt remaining butter; drizzle over top.
- Bake, uncovered, until golden brown, 23-28 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges and thyme sprigs.