...but now there are a few in Pensacola/Gulf Breeze area to get access to delicious Florida oysters...
This past Thanksgiving I made my usual traditional meat stuffing*, a French-Canadian dish that was always on our table on the holidays, either at our house or at my grandparents' tables - Mémère and Pépère Chabot, or Mémère Bossé. I have made it year after year and it NEVER, EVER tasted like my Dad's - NEVER! It is the single most frustrating culinary goal I have. My boys love meat stuffing and they are always gracious about mine, as is my husband but they will admit if pressed that it is not like Pépère's - and so the quest continues...My parents are both French-Canadian and both grew up in Fall River, Massachusetts, about 20 miles SE of Providence, Rhode Island. I remember growing up with summer vacations and holidays there full of aunties, uncles, grandparents, cousins and food, regional and ethnic during those trips.
So back to Thanksgiving's meat stuffing - I made too much and froze the extra. The stuffing was OK but it still lacked something. I was already thinking about what to do with it at Christmas, what I could do to spice it up a bit. My sister Michele was hosting the family Christmas Eve gathering this year and the theme was a Cajun Christmas. (She is the oldest of the twin girls, the last female birth in our family. The final child was my brother Bobby, the only boy in a family of 8 children.) I had just been to New Orleans with my husband and we had eaten at a wonderful restaurant, Cochon's, where I ordered a Meat and Oyster Pie. The filling reminded me of our family's meat stuffing and I had decided then that I wanted to try to make Meat and Oyster Pie for Christmas. The party was the perfect opportunity to make myself do this and so this blog entry is that recipe, or as close to it as I can remember!
I made the roux as directed as far as the coloring but I added more flour. I set the roux aside. I did not have green onions - I forgot them when I went to the store and I was not going to go back so I added a little bit more onion. I chopped up a green pepper, an orange pepper, a large onion, one elephant garlic. and parsley. I let them simmer in the oyster juice for about 10 minutes, then I added the oysters (I purchased at Joe Patti's, seafood house in Pensacola that you can always rely on for fresh seafood) and the roux and let them simmer about 15-20 minutes. I added salt and pepper to taste and some cayenne pepper. While that was simmering I made one cup of short grain white rice. The meat stuffing was thawed. After the roux mixture cooled I added the meat stuffing and about 3/4 of the rice I had made, mixed together. And then I made the little pies shown below to take to the party and I made one whole pie to keep here at the house for my family.
My conclusion of this endeavor? I am very happy with the results with a few tweaks to the recipe planned - a bit less oil in the roux and the green onion tops. It's kind of exciting to me to adapt the heritage I treasure to the area where I live and to create something of my own to pass on. Also, it might get me off the hook from all these years of trying to make meat stuffing like Dad's!
Cajun Meat and Oyster Pie - (the inspiration for my pies) 1/2 cup oil 1/4 cup flour 1 pound ground round 1/2 pound ground pork -- lean 1 large onion -- minced 1 small bell pepper -- minced 4 cloves garlic -- minced 1/4 cup chopped green onion tops 1/4 cup parsley -- chopped 1 pint oyster -- chopped/drained 2 teaspoons salt 1/2 teaspoon red pepper Pastry: 3 cups biscuit mix 1/2 teaspoon red pepper 1/8 teaspoon salt 3 tablespoons shortening 8 or 9 Tbs iced water Heat oil in skillet. Add flour. Stir until roux becomes dark brown. In another skillet brown beef and pork. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, onion tops and parsley. Saute until vegetables are wilted. Add chopped oysters, salt and pepper to taste. Add roux and simmer on low heat 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside and cool. Prepare pastry: Stir biscuit mix, red pepper and salt together with fork. Cut in shortening with pastry blender or 2 knives. Sprinkle water until dough can be worked into ball. Divide in half. Roll out very thin, cut into 3-inch rounds. Place 1 tablespoon meat filling in center. Fold in half. Crimp open edges together with fork. Bake on ungreased sheet in preheated 375F oven 20-25 minutes until golden brown. (Can also make 1 9"pie)
Place TWO parts ground beef to ONE part ground pork in pan with just enough water to cover the meat and simmer one hour. Add finely chopped onion and garlic cloves to taste and simmer another two hours. Somewhere along the line season with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning to taste. Shut off and let it sit for awhile to cool and for the fat to settle at the top. Then skim off the fat and thicken with bread crumbs. To skim the fat a good way is to push a fine strainer down a bit at the top of the pan and siphon off the fat and some liquid with a baster. There should not be much visible water in the pan when you start with the bread crumbs. It should just be a pretty wet meat mixture. Baked at 350 degrees until set, or stuff turkey with.