Oyster Mushroom Bisque

1 pound bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 pounds common white mushrooms, broken in pieces
1 full quart unwashed Louisiana oysters
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped fine
8 cloves fresh-peeled garlic, chopped
1 heaping tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
5-6 cups oyster liquor, strained
1/2 cup dry sherry wine
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 teaspoons Frank Davis Seafood Seasoning as desired to taste
2 tablespoons cornstarch to thicken, if needed
2/3 cup crumbled bacon for garnish
2/3 cup fresh Italian parsley, minced, for garnish
2 sleeves buttered Club crackers or Captain's Wafers

Start by sauteing the bacon then melting the butter in a 5-quart cast iron or heavy aluminum Dutch oven over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until the butter turns golden brown and develops a nutty aroma (this should take about 3 minutes). When the bacon becomes crisp, remove it from the pot and set it aside momentarily on paper towels to cool.

Now take the mushrooms, a handful at a time, and add them to the Dutch oven and cook them covered until the 'shrooms release their liquid and turn slightly toasty (this procedure will take about 5 minutes).

When the mushrooms are ready, drop in the oysters (along with the leeks) and cook everything over medium-high heat stirring occasionally until the oyster edges curl up. At this point, continue to cook the ingredients until most of the pot liquor has evaporated (this takes another 15 minutes). Now remove 2/3 cup of the mushroom-oyster mixture, chop it super fine, and set it aside.

Next, add the celery, the garlic, and the thyme to the pot and cook everything until it becomes fragrant (about 30 seconds). Then stir in the oyster water (it comes out best if you strain it) and the sherry and bring everything to a boil. But almost instantly, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the bisque uncovered for about 20 minutes.

At this stage, puree the bisque in a high-speed blender in batches until smooth. Then return the pureed bisque to the pot, sir in the cream as well as the mushrooms you reserved, and bring the bisque back to a simmer. All that's left now is to season the pot to taste with the salt, the pepper, and the seafood seasoning.

When you're ready to eat, ladle the bisque into deep soup bowls, sprinkle on the crumbled bacon, crown the bowl with a sprinkling of minced parsley, and serve it with a stack of buttered Club Wafers. Of course, a glass of chilled wine on the side makes a nice accompaniment.

Chef's Notes: Variation: Saute the mushrooms in butter until they turn golden brown and toasty. If the bisque is too 'soupy' for your taste, tighten it up a bit by adding in a tablespoon or two of corn starch. Before adding salt to this dish, first test the oysters to see if they're naturally salty.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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