Deep-Fried Pemaquid Oysters with Bacon and Green Pepper Relish
Pemaquid oysters are large oysters from Maine with a briny, lemony flavor; Malpeque oysters can be substituted. Corn flour is finely ground cornmeal; it is used for breading and in combination with other flours for baking. Cornmeal can be substituted here; the texture will be a bit coarser.
- 2 large green sweet peppers
- 1/2 cup sherry vinegar
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 medium shallots, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
- 1 teaspoon snipped fresh thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 4 cups canola oil
- 16 fresh Pemaquid or Malpeque oysters in shells, shucked and bottom shells cleaned and reserved
- 1 cup corn flour
- 2 slices bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled
- 16 fried sage leaves (optional, recipe follows)
For charcoal grill, grill sweet peppers on rack of uncovered grill directly over medium coals 10 to 12 minutes or until pepper is lightly charred, turning occasionally. (For gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place peppers on grill rack over heat. Cover and grill as above.) Place peppers in large bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Let stand 10 minutes. Loosen edges of skin with sharp knife; gently pull off skin in strips and discard. Reserve pepper juice. Chop peppers; set aside.
In medium non-reactive saucepan combine vinegar and brown sugar. Bring mixture to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, until mixture is reduced to 2 tablespoons and forms thin syrup, about 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in shallots, thyme, salt, and crushed red pepper. Stir in chopped peppers and reserved pepper juices. Cook and stir 3 to 5 minutes more. Transfer to bowl. Cover; chill until serving time or up to 3 days.
In 3-quart saucepan heat oil to 350°F. Coat oysters in corn flour. Fry oysters 1 to 2 minutes or until golden and oysters float, turning once.
To serve, place relish in reserved oyster shells. Top with oysters and crumbled bacon. Garnish with fried sage leaf. Makes 8 servings (2 per person).
Fried sage leaves: Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in small saucepan over moderate heat. Add sage leaves, in small batches, and cook, until crisped, about 30 seconds. Transfer with slotted spoon to paper towels; drain.