The dish that makes an appearance at our holiday table is scalloped oysters.

What’s funny is that it comes from my dad’s side of the family – Midwest farm people, who live about as far from an ocean as you can get.

When my folks married – my mom is a Boston native – she learned to make it, although she’d never seen or heard of it before.

As kids, my siblings and I got to crush the crackers for it, a job we enjoyed even though we thought the dish was ghastly.

My dad would insist every year we try it and my brother, sister and I would take a bite, wrinkle our noses and pronounce it disgusting.

Joyful that he wouldn’t have to share, my dad would say, “Well, maybe next year.”

This played out for more than a decade, until I was in my late teens and, after the mandatory bite, I realized it was actually kind of good. I heaped a serving on my plate. My brother and sister soon followed suit.

Now Dad has to share. I’m pretty sure he rues the day he encouraged us to try it.



Full box of saltine crackers

2 cans of oysters (save the juice)


Salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and butter a casserole dish.

Crush all the saltines in a plastic bag (a rolling pin works well; draft any available child for this task).

Drain the oysters, but save the juice.

Put a layer of the crushed crackers on the bottom of the casserole, followed by a layer of oysters. Dot with butter; sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Continue layering, ending with a layer of crackers on top. Dot with butter.

Mix the reserved oyster juice with milk and pour over the casserole, then add just milk, until the liquid reaches 3/4 of the way up the casserole dish.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the top browns.

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