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Cracker-Meal Fried Oyster Sandwich

Fried Oyster Sandwich

Residents of Virginia's Northern Neck prefer crushed cracker crumbs to the typical Southern cornmeal breading for oysters. The combination of crushed, salty crackers and egg wash create slightly denser fried oysters that are perfect for stuffing in a toasty bun.

Makes 4 servings

2 cups saltine crackers (approximately 1 sleeve)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 large eggs

1/4 cup Crisco

1/4 cup peanut oil

1 pint shucked oysters (about 20 medium-sized oysters)

4 large hamburger buns

Sliced tomato

Shredded iceberg lettuce

Tartar sauce (recipe below)

Hot sauce

Special tools: deep fat thermometer, 9-inch-round cast-iron pan

Crush crackers in a food processor and pulse until fine. Mix together cracker crumbs, flour, salt and pepper in a medium-size shallow bowl. In another small bowl, beat eggs.

Heat Crisco and peanut oil in fry pan. Insert a thermometer. When the temperature reaches 370 degrees, you are ready to fry.

Drain oysters. Roll oysters in cracker-crumb mixture, then dip in egg mixture and roll again in cracker crumbs. Fry oysters (be careful not to crowd them) in hot oil until both sides are golden brown. Drain on a rack set over paper towels and lightly salt, if desired.

Lightly toast hamburger buns. Mound oysters on bottom half of bun and top with sliced tomato and shredded lettuce. Serve with tartar sauce and hot sauce.

Homemade Tartar Sauce

Makes 1 cup

1 cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons onion, minced

3 tablespoons sweet pickles, minced

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, more if you like it spicy

Salt and pepper, to taste

Mix all ingredients well. Cover and chill.

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