Lady Johnson-Durrett’s Fried Oysters
The Baltimore Sun Recipe Contest Oysters Winner

Lady Johnson-Durrett’s Fried Oysters

In 1911, The Baltimore Sun ran a recipe contest for 24 weeks.  This is the prize winning recipe for oysters submitted by Lady Johnson-Durrett of 1312 Harlem Avenue, Baltimore, MD.  This was printed on January 29, 1911.  The recipe is as follows.

Fried Oysters.  The excellence of this dish will depend upon careful consideration of the following: Buying the oysters, making the meal, dust or crumb; preparation of oysters, frying media, proportions.  One quart, dry measure, of large select oysters will pat 30 fried oysters – two to an “oyster.”  One quarter of a pound of Eagle crackers or equivalent weight of bread crumbs.  One pound and a quarter of country lard or equal weight of olive oil.  One egg to a quart of oysters.  Seasoning, salt and pepper.  Garnish, parsley.  Buying the oysters is the most important step in the process.  Select oysters should be freshly shucked into the vessel of the purchaser and not shucked into the dealer’s container of old oyster liquor, for the more albuminous and less watery the envelope of the oyster the more flavor will be retained.

Making the meal, dust or crumb – Take stale bread, which should be toasted, or salted Eagle crackers, which have been crisped in the oven.  Roll or run either through the food chopper.  In patting oysters, pastiness is to be avoided, hence it is advisable to use a little of the dust as possible and not to have it too fine a powder.

Their preparation – Carefully lift oysters from container and place gently in colander (do not turn them out, as bits of shell or sediment may adhere to the oysters)  Examine for bits of shell and allow to drain for a few minutes.  Then place in a bowl containing fresh egg well beaten (one egg to a quart of oysters), with pepper and salt to taste.  Place a generous sprinkling of bread or cracker meal on the palm of the hand, lay one oyster on this, add another on top so the so-called hearts (muscles) will be together (being careful not to let the meal bet between the oysters) and the thicker ends outward.  Sprinkle with the dust, using as little dust or dumb as possible, press and lay upon a tray or plate, but not on wood.

The frying medium may be either country lard or, for the better, olive oil.  Either should be brought to the boiling point.  Olive oil has a low flashing point and must not be heated too high.  The lard or oil must be allowed to cook till the steam gives place to smoky vapor.  This is the browning point.  To fry, place the oysters carefully in the wire frying basket or float them carefully into the cooking large or oil.  A deep vessel is preferable and that of aluminum.  Remove when a light golden brown.  Some cooks place the oysters on butcher’s paper (nearly extinct) or an absorbent towel before serving to removed superfluous grease, but if the frying medium is sufficiently hot and the oysters are rapidly browned this is not necessary.  Serve at once on hot platter and garnish with parsley.  Fried oysters absolutely require celery and many consider pickles or chow-chow, slaw, olives and crackers pleasing accessories.

The Baltimore Sun 1911 Recipe Contest Oyster Winner
The Baltimore Sun 1911 Recipe Contest Oyster Winner

Fried Oysters - 1911 Prize Winning Recipe

Course Main Dish
Servings 30 oysters

Ingredients

  • 1 quart oysters dry measure
  • 1 1/4 pound lard or olive oil
  • 1/4 pound eagle crackers or bread crumbs
  • 1 large Egg 1 egg per quart of oysters

Instructions

  1. The excellence of this dish will depend upon careful consideration of the following: Buying the oysters, making the meal, dust or crumb; preparation of oysters, frying media, proportions.  One quart, dry measure, of large select oysters will pat 30 fried oysters - two to an "oyster."  One quarter of a pound of Eagle crackers or equivalent weight of bread crumbs.  One pound and a quarter of country lard or equal weight of olive oil.  One egg to a quart of oysters.  Seasoning, salt and pepper.  Garnish, parsley.  Buying the oysters is the most important step in the process.  Select oysters should be freshly shucked into the vessel of the purchaser and not shucked into the dealer's container of old oyster liquor, for the more albuminous and less watery the envelope of the oyster the more flavor will be retained. Making the meal, dust or crumb - Take stale bread, which should be toasted, or salted Eagle crackers, which have been crisped in the oven.  Roll or run either through the food chopper.  In patting oysters, pastiness is to be avoided, hence it is advisable to use a little of the dust as possible and not to have it too fine a powder. Their preparation - Carefully lift oysters from container and place gently in colander (do not turn them out, as bits of shell or sediment may adhere to the oysters)  Examine for bits of shell and allow to drain for a few minutes.  Then place in a bowl containing fresh egg well beaten (one egg to a quart of oysters), with pepper and salt to taste.  Place a generous sprinkling of bread or cracker meal on the palm of the hand, lay one oyster on this, add another on top so the so-called hearts (muscles) will be together (being careful not to let the meal bet between the oysters) and the thicker ends outward.  Sprinkle with the dust, using as little dust or dumb as possible, press and lay upon a tray or plate, but not on wood. The frying medium may be either country lard or, for the better, olive oil.  Either should be brought to the boiling point.  Olive oil has a low flashing point and must not be heated too high.  The lard or oil must be allowed to cook till the steam gives place to smoky vapor.  This is the browning point.  To fry, place the oysters carefully in the wire frying basket or float them carefully into the cooking large or oil.  A deep vessel is preferable and that of aluminum.  Remove when a light golden brown.  Some cooks place the oysters on butcher's paper (nearly extinct) or an absorbent towel before serving to removed superfluous grease, but if the frying medium is sufficiently hot and the oysters are rapidly browned this is not necessary.  Serve at once on hot platter and garnish with parsley.  Fried oysters absolutely require celery and many consider pickles or chow-chow, slaw, olives and crackers pleasing accessories.

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