Cornmeal Crusted Oysters with Baby Spinach, Warm Bacon Dressing, and Homemade Potato Chips

4 servings
  • 1 large Idaho potato (about 12 ounces), scrubbed
  • 6 cups vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon masa harina
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Essence, recipe follows
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 pint shucked oysters (about 20), drained
  • 8 ounces baby spinach, tough stems removed, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Warm Bacon Dressing, recipe follows
  • 1 (14-ounce) can hearts of palm, drained and cut on the bias into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and thinly sliced
  • With a mandoline or sharp heavy knife, slice the potatoes into rounds as thinly as possible. Rinse in several changes of water until the water runs clear. Soak in water until ready to cook.

  • In a medium heavy pot or deep-fryer, heat the oil to 360 degrees F.

  • Drain the potatoes and pat dry. Add to the hot oil in batches and cook, turning with a long-handled spoon, until golden and crisp, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Keep the oil hot.

  • In a medium bowl, combine the masa harina, cornmeal, 1 tablespoon of the Essence, and 1 teaspoon of the salt and stir to mix. Add the oysters and toss to coat evenly, then shake in a colander to remove any excess breading. Add to the oil, in batches, and cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Season with the remaining teaspoon of Essence.

  • Place the spinach in a large bowl and toss with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Add about 1/4 cup of the warm dressing and toss well.

  • Divide the spinach among 4 large salad plates. Garnish each serving with the hearts of palm and hard-boiled eggs, and place the potato chips in the center of the salads. Arrange the oysters around the outside of the plate and drizzle with the remaining dressing, to taste. Serve immediately.

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika

  • 2 tablespoons salt

  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder

  • 1 tablespoon black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon onion powder

  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano

  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

  • Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

  • Yield: about 2/3 cup

  • Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.

Warm Bacon Dressing:
  • 3 slices bacon, chopped

  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic

  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup canola oil

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • In a medium skillet, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until the bacon begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the mustard, tomato paste, vinegar, and sugar, and cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute.

  • Transfer to a food processor or blender, and puree. With the machine running, slowly add the oil in a steady stream and process until thick. Add the salt and pepper, and pulse once or twice to blend. Serve warm.

  • Yield: 3/4 cup

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