Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall
Active Time
20 Mins
Total Time
1 Hour
Yield
Serves 10

When you think of Southern casseroles, you probably imagine a whole bunch of pantry staples—from canned soup to vegetables to rice or pasta—tossed in a 13-by-9 and baked to a golden-brown. While we’re adamant fans of the pantry-cleanout casserole, this dish takes a different approach. This Scalloped Oyster casserole calls for minimal ingredients, effectively spotlighting the fresh, briny flavor of the oysters, which are complemented simply with crushed crackers.

Oyster casserole has graced Southern Thanksgiving tables for decades (we published our first Oyster Casserole recipe back in 1967). Some recipes feature chopped vegetables, cheese mixtures, and of course, crackers, but this recipe distills the Oyster Casserole down to its simplest elements. The Scalloped Oysters are composed with layers of flavor and texture, alternating primarily between a crushed cracker-butter mixture and fresh oysters. As you’re building these layers, be sure to balance them with sprinkles of a salt-pepper mixture and pieces of butter that will melt to form pockets in the casserole.

This recipe makes use of every part of the oyster, from the actual oyster to the salty oyster liquid. Combined with cream and poured over the dish right before baking, the oyster liquid adds a hint of brine to the bright seafood casserole. Here, the oysters are the star of the show—no bells or whistles required.

How to Make It

Step 1

Generously butter a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut 6 tablespoons of the butter into 1/2-inch pieces, and set aside. Stir together salt and pepper in a small bowl, and set aside.

Step 2

Pour oysters in liquid over a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl. Measure 1/3 cup strained oyster liquid into a small bowl. (Discard remaining oyster liquid, or reserve for another use.) Stir cream into oyster liquid. Cut any large oysters into 2 or 3 pieces. Microwave remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a medium-size microwavable glass bowl on HIGH until melted, about 30 seconds. Add 1 cup of the crushed crackers. Stir to coat, and set aside.

Step 3

Sprinkle bottom of prepared baking dish with 1 cup of the crushed crackers. Arrange one-fourth of the oysters, spaced a few inches apart, over crackers. Sprinkle with one-fourth of the salt-pepper mixture. Arrange one-fourth of the butter pieces around the oysters. Repeat layers 3 times using remaining crushed crackers, oysters, salt-pepper mixture, and butter pieces. Sprinkle evenly with reserved melted butter-cracker mixture.

Step 4

Pour oyster liquid-cream mixture over layered mixture in baking dish. Bake in preheated oven until puffed up, firm, and heated through, 30 to 35 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve hot or warm.