Serves 6. Recipe is by Corinne Cook. This can easily be adapted for serving less.
1 qt. fresh oysters
¾ cup butter, divided
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 large or 2 small, dried bay leaves, left whole
1?8 tsp. dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1½ to 2 cups crushed saltine cracker crumbs, divided
2 tbls. chopped fresh parsley
1. Drain oysters but reserve oyster liquid. If oysters are large, coarsely chop them. Set oysters and reserved liquor aside.
2. In medium skillet, melt 1 stick butter and sauté onion, garlic and whole bay leaf until onions are tender. Sprinkle with dried thyme and stir.
3. Add oysters and quickly sauté over medium high heat just until edges curl. Remove from heat.
4. In small separate bowl, moisten about 1 cup of the crushed crackers with the oyster liquor. You want the cracker crumbs moist but not soupy. Return oysters mixture to heat and fold in the moist cracker crumbs.
5. Season with salt if desired (remember saltines are salty), black pepper and pinch of cayenne and chopped parsley. If mixture is too thin or soupy, adjust with remaining cracker crumbs and oyster liquor. Remove the whole bay leaves and discard.
6. Add 3 tablespoons butter and stir until melted. Place in buttered individual ramekins or ovenproof gratin dishes.
7. Sprinkle with cracker crumbs and dot with remaining butter.
8. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for about 15 minutes or until bubbly. Prepare 1 day ahead of time if desired.