THE OYSTER TRADITION IS BIG BIG AT THE KENTUCKY DERBY

Each year on the first Saturday in May, eyes turn to the grandeur and thrill of the Kentucky Derby. And while out-of-state visitors look forward to tasting the legendary mint juleps and parade of audacious (and sometimes very fashionable) hats, locals look forward to Rolled Oysters.

Rolled Oysters are a baseball-sized seafood dish usually  found only in and around Louisville, Kentucky. Each consists of three raw oysters dipped together in a single mass in an egg-milk cornmeal batter called “pasting”, then rolled in cracker crumbs (hence its name), and deep fried.

They were first served by Italian immigrant Phillip Mazzoni and his brothers in the late 19th century. Legend says they learned the recipe from their mother, who had once lived in New Orleans. Because the oysters she bought there were small, she grouped several together before frying them.

Her sons continued the practice of combining oysters but with larger oysters. In their Louisville tavern they were a free giveaway to the patrons with a purchased beer or whiskey.

During prohibition, Mazzoni's remained open by selling these oysters in their new restaurant and it became a popular food item all over town. Today, most seafood restaurants and fish fries in the Louisville area will have their own version of these on their menus.

Rolled Oysters

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 dozen shucked oysters, drained
  • Vegetable oil
  • Catsup or tartar sauce 

Preparation

  1. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl; mix well.
  2. Combine milk and egg; add to flour mixture, stirring well.
  3. Place cornmeal in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Place oysters in flour mixture.
  5. Remove three oysters at a time, forming a ball.
  6. Roll in cornmeal.
  7. Place in flour mixture to coat; roll again in cornmeal.
  8. Repeat double coating procedure with remaining oysters, making 6 oyster rolls.
  9. Place rolls carefully in fryer basket.
  10. Deep fry in hot oil (375°).
  11. Reduce temperature to 350°.
  12. Cook until rolls float to the top and are golden brown.
  13. Drain well on paper towels.
  14. Serve with catsup or tartar sauce.