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Author Notes: The captn' climbed aboard and tossed a burlap bag full of oysters my direction and said, "make me some lunch." He had just rowed the ships dingy back from Witless Bay. I followed him to his quarters hoping to get some more on what he wanted me to do with the said bivalves. He slung his coat onto the back of the Chinese lions head chair, rubbed his arms through his wool sweater, lit his pipe and shivered. " Damn cold wind, where is that idiot first mate." I knew he was mad. These cold north winds caused him to come up short of Saint John's, that and the first mates getting lost while the captain slept. He knew why I was following him, "something hot!" Stick to you ribs spicy, make your nose run and head sweat, is the direction I went, no fancy mignonette sauce on a cold day like today, only good hearty sea fare. —Bob the sea cook
Serves 1 hungry captain or 4 sailors
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup celery, chopped
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped
- 12 large oysters, shucked
- oyster liquor reserved, 1/4 cup
- 3 Irish cobbler potatoes, peeled, 1/2 inch slices and boiled until tender then drained
- 1 parsnip, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes and boiled with the potatoes
- 1/3 to 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons the captains best cognac
- 2 healthy grindings of nutmeg
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoons ground cayenne, according to your heat tolerence
- 2/3 cup crushed saltines, tossed with a tablespoon of melted buitter
- sea salt
- chives and parsley, minced for garnish
- Throw a few more logs into the oven you want it to be as hot as you can get it. Place a shallow cast iron cooking vessel over a medium flame on the cooktop. Add the butter, onion and celery and saute until wilted. Season with sea salt and white pepper.
- Break the cooked potatoes and parsnips into chunks and add to the pan. Add the cognac, cream, nutmeg and cayenne. Bring to a boil and reduce the liquid until it begins to thicken.
- Remove from the heat and gently place the oysters on top and then spread the saltines across the top. Bake until the oysters just begin to curl and the edges of the cream start to boil and the saltines take on a little color. Sprinkle with chives and parsley. Serve on a trivet.