Brigsten's Oysters Bienville Recipe

Discover this historic and delicious recipe for Louisiana oysters.

Oysters Bienville by Brigtsen's Restaurant in New Orleans

Oysters Bienville by Brigtsen's Restaurant in New Orleans. Photo: Saveur Magazine.

Chef Frank Brigtsen of Brigtsen's Restaurant in New Orleans provided some insight to the origination of this classic recipe, named for the founder of New Orleans: Jean Baptiste le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville. The dish was first created at Arnaud’s Restaurant in the French Quarter. Just as Antoine’s is known for its Oysters Rockefeller, Arnaud’s is known for its Oysters Bienville.

Ingredients for Oysters Bienville:

  • ½ cup thinly sliced bacon
  • 1 cup diced ham (¼-inch pieces)
  • 3 cups finely diced yellow onion
  • 2 cups finely diced celery
  • 1 cup finely diced green bell pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon + ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried whole-leaf thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried whole-leaf oregano
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 2 cups sliced green onions
  • 1 cup diced shrimp
  • ¼ cup dry sack sherry
  • 1 cup oyster liquor
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups cream
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose white flour
  • 36 oysters on the half-shell

 Method of Preparation:

  1. Cook the bacon in a heavy-duty pot over medium heat until crispy. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat.
  2. Add the ham and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the onions, celery, bell peppers and bay leaf. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions become soft and clear.
  4. Reduce heat to low. Add the salt, white pepper, cayenne, thyme, oregano and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute.
  5. Add the mushrooms and green onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms become soft, 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp turn pink, 1-2 minutes. Add the sherry and cook for 1 minute.
  7. Add the oyster liquor and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom and sides of the pot.
  8. Add the milk and cream and bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer for 3-4 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Transfer the mixture to a tall container and purée until very smooth. Transfer the puréed sauce back into the pot.
  9. Make a blond roux: Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Gradually whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly. Bring the Bienville sauce to a boil and gradually add the roux, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat. Refrigerate until fully chilled.
  10. To serve, preheat oven to 500 degrees. Top each oyster on the half-shell with about 3 tablespoons of the Bienville Sauce. Bake at 500 degrees for 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
    Yield: Makes 36 oysters.

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