My Recipe Box

Oysters with Irish Soda Bread and Guinness Stout

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Serves 6

  • by Cindy Pawlcyn from Cindy's Supper Club

I have wonderful memories of being on holiday in Ireland and eating oysters with my family at picnic tables while looking out at the crashing waves. You can dress up the oysters in individual porcelain oyster plates or lay them on crushed ice on a big platter and have everyone gather around. The soda bread is great with any Irish meal.

for the soda bread
  • 2-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose or pastry flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 cup butter, for serving
for the mignonette
  • 1 cup malt or cider vinegar (or Champagne vinegar or red wine vinegar if you cannot find the others)
  • 3/4 cup minced shallot
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 to 1-1/2 Tbs. coarsely cracked black peppercorns
  • 36 fresh oysters, scrubbed
  • Crushed ice, for serving
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  • Tabasco sauce, for serving
  • Guinness stout, for serving
To make the soda bread:

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, stir together the flours, baking soda, and salt, mixing well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, oil, and honey until well blended. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir until a dough forms.

Pour the dough into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top as well as you can. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and dry. Alternatively, protecting your non-dominant hand with a hot pad, invert the loaf onto the pad and tap the bottom with your other hand. If the loaf sounds hollow, it is ready. Let the loaf cool completely on a rack.

Make the mignonette:

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, shallot, salt, and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Prepare the oysters:

Line a large platter with a layer of crushed ice. Using an oyster knife, shuck each oyster carefully: protect the hand that is holding the oyster with a thick towel and position the oyster with the flatter side up, the rounded end pointing toward your thumb and fingers, and the pointed end—the hinged end—pointing toward you. Insert the knife at the oyster’s hinge and twist sharply to snap the hinge. Slip the knife along the inside of the top shell and lift off and discard the shell. Then slide the knife under the oyster to sever the adductor muscle, freeing the oyster from the shell. Leave the oyster in the bottom (deeper) shell and try not to spill any of the oyster liquid. Check for shell fragments and remove any that you find. Nest the oyster in the bed of ice and shuck the remaining oysters the same way.

Serve the oysters with the lemon wedges and Tabasco on the side. Demitasse spoons are handy for spooning on the Tabasco. Seafood forks are optional, as the oysters have been freed from the shells. Slice the soda bread and place in a bread basket or let your guests slice their own pieces, as you see fit. Serve with plenty of Irish butter and Guinness Stout!

Photo: Alex Farnum

Reprinted with permission from Cindy’s Supper Club: Meals from Around the World to Share with Family and Friends. Copyright © 2012 by Cindy Pawlcyn. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group.

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