Did you know that during World War 2, and in the years following, our fisheries division had a mission to market the oceans and the consumption of fish?
To support this effort our Fisheries bureau prepared a series of oyster, shrimp and lobster recipes to encourage people to prepare a holiday meals just as the Pilgrims were believed to have eaten: with oysters for appetizers and in the stuffing for the turkey.
While most people know her for her long-lasting conservation legacy, former Service Biologist Rachel Carson once penned news releases featuring seafood and shellfish holiday recipes for the public.
On Thanksgiving eve, we thought we'd share with you one of Rachel's recipes. If you decide to give Oysters a chance at your holiday table, let us know how it goes by leaving a comment below!
Whatever you cook this week, we at Open Spaces wish you a safe and happy Thanksgiving!
Monday, December 22nd, 1947
By the Food Editors
Oysters in the Holiday Menu
As the holiday season brings the year’s heaviest demand for oysters, abundant market supplies throughout the country assure that there will be plenty to go around for the traditional holiday uses in cocktails, stews, and poultry dressing, the Fish and Wildlife Service reports.
Although fall storms in certain areas, especially on the Gulf Coast, destroyed oyster beds and interfered with production, oyster fishermen on both coasts have been busy since the season opened in September harvesting the year’s crop of this tasty shellfish.
During the cold winter months of December and January, oysters reach their peak of plumpness and flavor and are then in greatest demand. During the Christmas holiday season, their place of honor at family dinners, parties, church suppers, and banquets is traditional.
Home economists of the Fish and Wildlife Service point out that oysters, being readily digested, are particularly adapted to use during the Christmas season of heavy eating. In cocktails, they whet the appetite for the treat to come; for the main dish, they combine superbly with the fowl as oyster stuffing or oyster stew. Oyster bisque is a favorite supper dish for the holidays.
The following suggestions for buying and preparing oysters for holiday meals are offered by home economists of the Service; Oysters may be purchased in three forms:
- live in the shell
- and canned,
Oysters in the shell are generally sold by the dozen and should be alive when purchased. Gaping shells that do not close when handled, indicate that the oysters are dead and no longer usable. If shell oysters are held at 40 degrees,
they wil remain aliver for a week or two.
Shucked oysters should be plump, and have a natural creamy color with clear liquor. When kept properly refrigerated, they will remain fresh for a week or ten days. Frozen oysters should not be thawed until ready for use. Once thawed, they should not be refrozen.
The quantity to purchase depends on how the oysters are to be served, For six persons, allow three dozen shell oysters, or one quart of shucked oysters, or two No. 1 cans of canned oysters. Shucked oysters are entirely edible, as there is no wastage from trimmings.
1 l/2 pints oysters
Drain and dry oysters. Allow six oysters for each serving and arrange in lettuce cups on individual salad plates, In the center of each plate, place a smail container of cocktail sauce. Garnish with lemon. Serves 6.
1 Cup catsup
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon horse-radish
1 tablespoon celery, minced
1 tablespoon onion, minced
I/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Few drops of Tabasco sauce
Blend all ingredients and chill
Tomato Oyster Bisque
1 pint oysters
1 quart milk
1 slice onion
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon flour
2 l/2 teaspoons salt
i/4 teaspoon pepper
1 can condensed tomato Soup
Drain oysters, and chop. Add liquor, an? heat slowly to boiling point. Scald milk with slice of onion. Melt butter in top of double boiler, blend in the flour, add milk, and cook until thick, stirring constantly. Add oysters, seasonings, tomato soup, and heat to boiling point, Serve immedbiately with croutons. Serves 6
Oyster Stuffing for Chicken
1 pint oysters
1/2 cup celery, chopped
l/2 cup onion, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
4 cups day old bread cubes
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
l/8 teaspoon poultry seasoning
l/8 teaspoon pepper
Drain oysters, saving liquor, and chop. Cook celery and onion in butter until
tender. Combine oysters, cooked vegetables, bread cubes and seasonings, and mix
the roughly. If stuffirg seems dry, moisten with oyster liquor, Makes enough for a
4 pound chicken.
Oyster Stuffing for Turkey
For 10-15 lb. turkey (3 times the above recipe)
For 16-20 lb. turkey (4 times the above recipe)
For 21-25 lb. turkey (5 times the above recipe)