Oyster Patties are a super delicious oyster dish commonly seen on the appetizer trays at parties and receptions in New Orleans. They are often served bite-size, but larger entree-sized servings are also popular. However big or little the bite is, the flavor is huge! Fresh oysters simmered in a mushroom cream sauce, then loaded into light and airy puff pastry and baked to bubbly perfection. These are special and unforgettable, and they are also simple to make.
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What are Oyster Patties?
Oyster Patties are a traditional New Orleans Creole dish served as an appetizer or entree. Like many Creole recipes, its origin is French, as may be guessed by the use of butter, a rich sauce, and delicate pastry. The tradition dates as far back as the 1840s in Creole New Orleans and was appearing in local cookbooks in the early 1900s.
Also known as Oysters Bouchées or Oysters Vol-Au-Vents, it's the marriage of a savory oyster filing and this delicate pastry that makes it special. The meaning of each is basically a pastry shell filled with a sweet or savory filling and the difference between the two is the size of the pastry shell. Bouchées, meaning “mouthful”, is a small appetizer size pastry (the ones I’m using here are about 1½ inch in diameter) and vol-au-vents, meaning “windblown” because of its light, flakey character, is larger, approximately 3 inches in diameter. The vol-au-vents usually have a lid or cap that can cover the filling after baking, if you want.
Although not many of us can claim to have experienced first-hand the elegance of old Creole New Orleans, this dish connects us to that time and helps maintain the lore. The popularity of Oyster Patties was bolstered by a New Orleans icon, McKenzie's Bakery. Established in 1924 in Uptown New Orleans, it operated until 2000 furnishing memories in pastry form to almost everyone that grew up in New Orleans during that time. New Orleanians don't let go of the past very easily so just about everyone has a fond memory of McKenzie's that keeps us rooted. My favorite was Jelly Donuts, but we also never had a King Cake from anywhere but McKenzie's when I was growing up. One very popular offering of the iconic local bakery chain was puff pastry shells (in two sizes). These puff pastries were commonly referred to as Oyster Patties and were so popular that McKenzie's actually published a recipe for the oyster filling. This is the pastry and the recipe which became a staple in many New Orleans households, including my own. The MU (Mother Unit, the affectionate term my siblings and I reserve for our Mom) loved to serve these elegant morsels at cocktail parties, adding a little bit of Ole New Orleans Creole elegance to her gatherings. Every fancy party and wedding reception in New Orleans worth its salt would serve Oyster Patties, and most of them still do.
Here’s What You Need
Here are some of the key ingredients for this recipe:
If oysters aren't your thing, make this recipe with turkey or chicken, substituting chicken stock for the oyster juice. You can also use all mushrooms or add chopped spinach or chopped artichoke hearts. Be sure to drain all ingredients before adding.
Margarine can be substituted for butter.
About the Puff Pastry Shells
I am using Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry Shells that come frozen at your local grocery store. For the smaller shells, I went to a local bakery. If you can't find the Pepperidge Farms product, check out their website and they have a "Where to Buy" link. You can substitute other flaky, light pastries or french bread slices, or even toast.
Here is some of the equipment I used to prepare this recipe:
Dutch Oven, Frying Pan, Chef’s Knife, Cutting Board, Prep Bowls (Cambro), Prep Bowls (Glass), Measuring Cups-Glass, Measuring Cups-Metal, Measuring Spoons, Small Food Processor, Large Food Processors, Kitchen Strainer, Saute Pan, Baking Sheet, Parchment Paper
Here’s What You Do
First...you have a beer. I love recipes that connect us to tradition, making preparation more fun. Let's start prepping ourselves with a beer while we read the recipe all the way through. Learn what ingredients you need and what you will do with each ingredient and piece of equipment. That's the first step of mise en place.
Mise en Place
- Chop the mushrooms into approximately ⅛ inch cubes.
- If using the small, appetizer-size shells, roughly chop the oysters. It's not necessary to chop the oysters if you are using large puff pastry shells.
- Finely chop the yellow onions and green onion tops.
- Measure the remaining ingredients:
- Place the Herb and Spice Blend into one prep bowl and the remaining ingredients into individual prep bowls according to how the ingredients are added to the recipe. (i.e., if ingredients are going in together, they can be placed in a prep bowl together).
- Prepare the puff pastry shells according to the directions on the package and set them aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prepare the mushrooms and oysters
What happens in this step? The oysters and mushrooms are the big flavor drivers for this recipe and they need to be cooked separately first.
Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped mushrooms and saute until browning, about 5-8 minutes. Set aside.
Add the oysters (chopped and whole) and all the juice to a saucepan. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring it to a simmer. Maintain the simmer for 10 minutes, then strain the oysters and reserve liquid. It's also good to strain the liquid separately to make sure there are no little pieces of shell.
Make a cream sauce base
What happens in this step? This is what makes the recipe work. This creamy sauce is what will fuse the briny flavor of oysters and the mild, earthy flavor of the mushrooms into a memorable bite.
Place a large saute pan over medium-high heat and melt the butter. Add the yellow onions and saute until starting to clear about 5 minutes. Make sure to stir often so the onions do not brown.
After a couple of minutes, add the sauteed mushrooms (plus any juice that accumulated). Combine the mushrooms with the onions mix and stir for about 5 minutes.
Add the AP flour and stir to mix it into the onions completely.
Next, add the Herb and Spice Blend and simmer for about 3 minutes.
Add the warmed milk to the saute pan a little at a time. Stir thoroughly to combine the warm milk with the onions, mushroom, and flour before adding more warm milk.
Tip: I don't like to introduce cold liquids to a roux or roux base because that can cause lumps. Warm the whole milk in the microwave or stovetop prior to use.
Once all the milk has been added, bring it to a simmer and maintain until the sauce is starting to thicken into a smooth paste. This should take about 5 minutes.
Mix in the oysters
What happens in this step? This is where the magic happens. The oysters are the star of the show and this is when we add their elegance to the mixture.
Make sure the oysters are strained (reserve the liquid), then add them a few at a time to the sauce. Blend well and continue to simmer. Add the Worcestershire and Tabasco. Continue simmering for a couple of minutes.
Add as much oyster juice as needed to reach the consistency you want. It should be a smooth, semi-thick sauce, but not runny.
Tip: It's a good idea to strain the oyster liquid before adding it. As these are fresh oysters there can be small pieces of shell mixed in and should be removed. As you are adding the oysters a few at a time by hand, you will catch any shell pieces mixed with the oysters.
Add the parsley and pimentos (if using). Mix well and set aside.
Prepare and bake the pastry shells
What happens in this step? The puff pastry is somewhat delicate. Baking serves to "puff" the pastry, filling them with air between the layers, and creates a perfect vehicle to bring this delicious oyster sauce to the party. This step results in a perfectly crisp crunch of air and pastry that melts in your mouth along with the delicious oyster filling.
If you haven’t done so already, prepare the pastry shells according to the package directions. Puff pastry from a bakery may or may not need to be prepared beforehand.
Place the prepared patty shells on a large, parchment paper-lined baking sheet and fill each shell with the oyster mixture. If you are using large puff pastries and you have chopped the oysters, place one or two whole oysters in each pastry shell before adding the filling.
Tip: Fill the pastry shells just prior to baking and serving. If you fill them too early, the pastry shell will have a tendency to get soggy. Also, try not to fill more shells than you are ready to serve, you can always make more.
Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the pastry is starting to brown and the filling is bubbly.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set it aside for about 5 to 10 minutes. Garnish the top with finely chopped green onion tops or fresh parsley flakes.
Hints and Tips (FAQs)
This recipe can be made with turkey or chicken instead of oysters. Use about 3 to 4 cups of chopped turkey or chicken and make sure to have some chicken or turkey stock handy if you need to thin the sauce. You can also make this with all mushrooms. Use about 4 or 5 cups of mushrooms and chicken or vegetable stock to thin the sauce, if needed.
Keep any filled shells leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days, then reheat them in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven until warmed through (about 10-15 minutes). It's best not to fill more shells than you will be serving. You can keep the sauce refrigerated in an airtight container, then when you're ready to serve, just fill the pastry and follow the instructions to finish.
You can freeze the filling for up to six months in an airtight container. Defrost in the fridge overnight, then fill pastry shells and finish according to the instructions. With the butter and milk you may experience some separation in the sauce, but just gently stir it back together as you reheat it on the stove.
Yes, that's possible. For best results, make the sauce up to the point of adding the oysters. Keep everything refrigerated in an airtight container. When ready to serve, start at the step of adding the oysters and finish it out. It's also possible to make the sauce to completion and then simply stuff the shells prior to baking.
Try these other great Oyster Dishes from Sweet Daddy D:
Here's another great recipe from Sweet Daddy D using delicious puff pastry: Crawfish Vol-Au-Vents...you have to try these!
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Here's What You Need
- 2 Pint oysters with liquid (See Notes)
- 6 tablespoons butter divided
- 2 cups onions chopped fine
- 2 tablespoon AP flour
- 8 ounces mushrooms chopped fine
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- Dash Tabasco
- 3 pimentos chopped fine-optional
- ½ cup green onions tops chopped fine
- Frozen Patty Shells
Herb and Spice Blend
- ½ teaspoon Creole seasoning
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- ½ teaspoon cayenne optional
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
Here's What You Do
Prepare the mushrooms
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saute pan over medium-high heat.
- Add chopped mushrooms and saute until browning, about 5-8 minutes. Set aside.
Prepare the oysters
- Chop the oysters into small pieces. (If using large pastry shells, leave about 12 smaller oysters whole).
- Add the chopped oysters and all the juice to a saucepan; bring to a simmer and maintain for 10 minutes. Strain oysters, reserve liquid.
Prepare the Pastry Shells
- If using frozen pastry, prepare them according to the package instructions. If using fresh pastry, skip this step.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the prepared pastry shells on the baking sheet with some space in between the shells. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
To make the filling
- Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a saute pan over medium-high heat.
- Add the onions and saute until starting to clear about 5 minutes. Stir often so the onions do not brown.
- Add the sauteed mushrooms (with any juice) and mix to blend. Stir for about 5 minutes.
- Add the AP flour and stir to mix it into the onions and mushrooms completely.
- Add the Herb and Spice Blend, mix well, and continue to stir for about 3 minutes.
- Warm the whole milk in the microwave or stovetop. Add the milk a little at a time, stirring to thoroughly combine with the veggies.
- Once all the milk has been added, bring it to a simmer and maintain that, stirring often, until starting to thicken about 5 minutes
- Drain the oysters, reserving the liquid. Add the oysters to the sauce and blend well. Continue to simmer. Add the Worcestershire and Tabasco and continue to simmer for a couple of minutes.
- Add some of the reserved oyster juice until you have the consistency you want.
- Add parsley and pimentoes (if using). Mix well and set aside.
Fill the Pastry Shells and bake
- If you haven't already done so, place the prepared patty shells on a large, parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Make sure to leave space between each pattie.
- Use a spoon to fill the patty shells with the oyster mixture. For larger puff pastries, place a couple of the reserved whole oysters in each pastry.
- Place the baking into the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the pastry is starting to brown and the filling is bubbly.
- Take out, top with finely green onion tops. Set aside and let cool for about 5 minutes.