When I was a youngster living at home, this oyster pie used to be a Thanksgiving favorite. I noticed, however, that the Lambert family's oyster pie was a little better than ours. Later I found out why. When Helen Lambert made the pie, she used the tiny oyster crackers we call oysterettes, while my family used saltine crackers. It's hard to believe the difference a cracker can make.
4 cups oysters, drained, but with their liquor strained and reserved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
10-inch Pyrex deep-dish pie pan
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Coarsely crumble the oyster crackers and layer the bottom of the pie pan with 1 cup of them. Top with a layer of oysters, using 1 cup of them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Repeat with 3 more layers each of oyster crackers and oysters, remembering to season each oyster layer with salt and pepper.
Pour the oyster liquor into a glass measuring cup and add as much cream as necessary to make 1 cup. Pour over the oysters. Dot the top with the butter. Let the pie set for 10 minutes.
Place the pie in the top third of the preheated oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until the top begins to brown and the oysters are plump and hot. Turn up the heat and broil the oyster pie for 4 minutes or until the top is completely browned. Be careful not to overcook the oysters or they will expel all of the juices. If this happens, you will still have all of the oyster flavor, but not finely textured oysters. Serve immediately. (This pie does not cut into neat wedges; you'll get a looser home-style serving.)
Recipe from Louis Osteen's Charleston Cuisine by Louis Osteen. Copyright 1999 by Louis Osteen. Reprinted by permission of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, a division of Workman Publishing