Recipe by French Terrine
I like to serve oysters on special occasions.This bisque is based on a recipe from Sarah Leah Chase's cookbook, COLD WEATHER COOKING. It begins by first making your base by sauteing onion and celery in butter, adding rehydrated wild mushrooms, then seasoning with thyme and nutmeg, making a rue with some flour, then stirring in your juices from the rehydrated wild mushrooms, oyster liquor, fish stock, and sherry. While the soup base simmers, prepare wild rice, and saute your fresh mushrooms. This is where you can really be creative with different types of mushrooms, like my fave, Hen of the Woods, AKA Maitake, which adds an intense earthiness and an interesting texture. Once the soup base has simmered, add in your light cream and blend with an immersion blender. Add in your sauteed mushrooms, wild rice, and oysters.The base and the wild rice can be made ahead. The original recipe uses heavy cream and cream sherry. Makes a lovely first course for a holiday dinner.
- 3⁄4 cup mixed dried wild mushrooms or 3⁄4 cup porcini mushroom
- 2 cups boiling water
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1⁄2 cup celery, minced
- 1 large onion, minced
- 1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg, grated
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1⁄4 cup flour
- 4 cups fish stock or 4 cups clam juice, plus any accumulated juices from shucked oysters
- 1⁄2 cup sherry wine
- 1 lb assorted mushroom (oyster, Hen of Woods, chanterelles, button mushrooms)
- 3⁄4 cup half-and-half cream
- salt and pepper
- 1 lb oyster, shucked (in a jar)
- 1 1⁄2 cups wild rice, prepared according to package directions
Directions See How It's Made
- Rinse oysters thoroughly in cold water to remove the sand and drain, reserving as much oyster liquor as possible. Also strain out sandy particles or pieces of shell that might be present in the liquor.
- Place dehydrated mushrooms in a bowl and cover them with boiling water and let stand for 30 minutes. (Since the dehydrated mushrooms can be a bit spendy, I just purchase a small package of mixed wild mushrooms that include porcinis). To remove any sand that might be present, strain liquid through a cheese cloth and reserve the liquid. Chop the rehydrated mushrooms finely.
- Melt 4 tablespoons butter in in a large soup pot over medium heat. Saute onion, celery, rehydrated mushrooms, thyme, and nutmeg until vegetables are soft and translucent. Stir in 1/4 cup flour until well incorporated and allow flour to brown slightly. (I probably use at least 1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg. Chef Sarah calls for a "pinch.").
- Gradually add in the reserved mushroom liquid, fish stock, oyster juices, and sherry. (If you do not have fish stock, use bottled clam juice. But it is easy to make using fish heads, fish bone trimmings, onion, and celery. Although salmon heads can be used for some types of stock, I prefer to use heads from white fish, like cod or snapper.) Simmer soup base uncovered 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While the soup is simmering, slice the button mushrooms and chop remaining fresh mushrooms. Then saute in 2 tablespoons of butter. Although Chef Sarah only uses button mushroom and oyster mushrooms, I prefer to add other types of fresh mushrooms. I have noted from other recipes that oyster mushrooms are usually a substitute for Hen of the Woods mushrooms, but the latter have such an intensely earthy flavor and an interesting texture.
- Also while soup is simmering prepare wild rice according to package directions.
- Once base has simmered long enough to get all the flavors married, add the light cream. Then puree with an immersion blender. (Chef Sarah also purees the oyster mushrooms in with the base, but I would rather leave them chopped with the other fresh mushrooms).
- Add in sauteed fresh mushrooms, 1 1/2 cups of prepared wild rice, and oysters. Heat thoroughly to blend the flavors and cook until the edges of the oysters curl slightly. Adjust flavors with salt, pepper, and additional sherry. Serve at once, garnished with chopped parsley or thyme leaves and a splash of sherry in each bowl.
- Note: To prepare according to cookbook recipe, use only oyster mushrooms and button mushrooms. Finely chop the oyster mushrooms, so they can be pureed in with the base. Then combine sliced button mushrooms, oysters, and wild rice and complete as above. Also recipe from cookbook uses cream sherry and heavy cream instead of light cream.