A miner miracle

Credit: Photo by Alex Ortega / EyeEm via Getty Images

I once thought the best way to prove I was a food sophisticate was to prefer my oysters raw. Don’t get me wrong, a chilled, tender mollusc squirted with lemon tastes like jumping into into the ocean on a hot summer day, but I was wrong to presume I’d always prefer oysters raw. After my first fried oyster, I was ready and willing to repeat. Enter: the hangtown fry.

Not only does hangtown fry sound like the title of a song you’d sing with your bunk at camp, which is fun enough a reason to make or order one, the dish is packed with good things to eat. Like many camp songs, hangtown fry also has some relationship to American history. Dating back to late 1800s, hangtown fry was a victory meal for miners who’d found enough gold during the day that they had extra to spend on oysters. Essentially an omelet of fried oysters and bacon, a hangtown fry is a just-slightly-opulent meal that can be made to celebrate a new project, a successful work week, or even just making it to the weekend.

Beat 1 egg in a small bowl, place ¼ cup flour in another small bowl, and ¼ cup cornmeal or breadcrumbs in a third small bowl.

Season 10 shucked oysters with salt and pepper. Dip each oyster in the flour, then in the egg, then in the cornmeal. Place the oysters on a plate and set aside.

Fry 4 strips of bacon in a nonstick pan, then set on a paper towel-lined plate. If you’d like, reserve the bacon fat for frying the oysters; if not, wipe out the fat from the pan and heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil.

Fry the oysters for 2-4 minutes per side, or until they’re golden brown

Beat 6 eggs and pour them into the pan with the oysters. Sprinkle finely sliced scallions and crumble the bacon onto the egg. Cook the omelet for 3 minutes, or until the eggs have just set, then fold it in half. Cover the pan and turn off the heat to let the omelet steam for 2 minutes.

Slide the omelet onto a plate and top it with more sliced scallions, then serve the hangtown fry to a hungry, deserving group of people.