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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Try traditional dish with twist

Now that the holidays are here, my thoughts turn to the big meals. There are dishes that make appearances every year. While these dishes are very delicious, some of them I had to tinker with. My wife always says that I never make a dish the same way as I did the last time. I guess that I am always searching for the perfect dish.

Today, I am sharing with you three traditional Centola family dishes that I have put my spin on: Italian Baked Oysters (Oysters Centola), Crabmeat Remoulade and Garlic Mashed Potatoes. These variations are just as good, if not better, than the originals.

Italian Baked Oysters (Oysters Mosca) are always present at a Centola holiday gathering. While the original dish is wonderful, I wanted a dish that I could put my name on. The addition of the tasso was a big improvement. When I added the Sriracha, I have found my dish. I named it Oysters Centola to honor all of the great cooks in my family.

Oysters Centola

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh garlic, chopped

1½ teaspoons Sriracha

1/3 cup tasso, diced

1 pint oysters

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs

3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Preheat oven to 400 ℉.

Combine butter and olive oil in a 9x9-inch baking pan. Stir in garlic, Sriracha and Tasso. Layer oysters in the pan. In a separate bowl, combine parsley, basil, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the oysters making sure they are totally covered. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve immediately. You can also put these into individual dishes for ease of serving.

My mother’s Shrimp Remoulade is often used as a salad component to the holiday meal. One day, I wanted the taste of remoulade but I did not have shrimp on hand. I did, however, have some crabmeat. Since necessity is the mother of invention, this creation was born. One day, I will combine the shrimp and crabmeat.

Crabmeat Remoulade

4 tablespoons horseradish mustard

½ cup tarragon vinegar

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons ketchup

½ cup celery, diced

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup salad oil

1 tablespoon paprika

½ cup green onions, diced

2 pounds lump crabmeat

Mix vinegar, mustard, salt, cayenne pepper, paprika, ketchup,

and garlic. Add oil, beating well. Add celery and green onions. Add

crabmeat and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve on shredded lettuce.

Mashed potatoes are not the easiest things to make. Many versions are very lumpy. To ensure that my mashed potatoes are smooth, I run them through a ricer or a food mill. These kitchen gadgets make sure that the potatoes have no lumps. To enhance the flavor of the potatoes, I use chicken stock in place of water.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

3 pounds of potatoes, peeled and cut into small slices

48 ounces of chicken broth

1/4 cup granulated garlic

1 stick butter

1/2 cup heavy cream


Put the potato slices in a large pot. Cover potatoes with chicken broth. Add the granulated garlic. On high heat bring the potatoes to a boil. Lower heat to medium –low and cover the potatoes, cooking them until they are tender. Heat the heavy cream to take the chill off. Drain the potatoes. Mash the potatoes in a large bowl. Add the butter to potatoes and allow to melt. Add the heavy cream and mix until well blended. Salt to taste.

I hope you will enjoy my variations on some classic family recipes. They will surely be welcomed at the dinner table. Feel free to add your own twist. You may discover a variation that I have not thought of.

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