Photo: Serious Eats

Recipe: Hangtown Fry

A California gold prospector strikes it rich and waltzes into a bar in Hangtown (now known as Placerville). He asks the kitchen to concoct the most expensive dish possible, and the chef promptly throws together a few eggs (difficult to transport to the mining town), bacon (shipped from the East Coast), and oysters (carefully brought on ice from San Francisco over 100 miles away). Voila, the Hangtown Fry was born.

Or maybe it happened when a man on death row was asked what he wanted his last meal to be. He requested an omelet with oysters, hoping that the distance the oysters would have to travel would delay his execution for a day. There’s no word on whether his ploy worked, but at least he got to enjoy a pretty fine last meal.

Either way, the Hangtown Fry is a great weekend brunch meal, and you don’t even have to win the lottery to make it. So, sit back and enjoy this culinary embodiment of the Gold Rush, celebrating the little luxuries in life.

Hangtown Fry

Adapted from Serious Eats
Serves 2

6 oysters, shucked
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons cornmeal
4 strips bacon
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon butter
4 eggs, beaten
kosher salt and cracked black pepper
sliced scallions (optional garnish)
sliced cherry tomatoes (optional garnish)

Coat each oyster in flour, then egg, then cornmeal, and reserve until ready to use. Fry the bacon over medium heat in large skillet until bacon is fully cooked and brown. Remove and drain on paper towel and once cool enough to handle, coarsely chop. Add breaded oysters to remaining bacon fat in pan and cook until oysters are just firm and cornmeal begins to brown, about 2 minutes per side. Remove oysters from pan and reserve. Add onions to what’s left of the oil in the pan (adding additional vegetable oil if necessary) and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.

Remove skillet from heat and carefully wipe with paper towel, or wash completely and place back on heat. Melt butter over medium heat and season the beaten egg with a pinch of salt and pepper. Once bubbles have subsided, add beaten egg, swirling pan so that egg coats the entire bottom. When egg has set, but is still a little wet on the top, gently slide onto a large dish or platter. Scatter bacon, onions and oysters on one side of omelet and gently fold the other half of the omelet across the filling. Scatter with scallions and serve with buttered toast and Bloody Marys.