Wild Rice and Oyster Casserole
Mikey Tried It
This savory recipe is delicious beyond belief…if you give it a chance. It contains vitamin and nutrient-rich foods that, unfortunately, some have learned to dislike or have simply never tried. Not only is this dish loaded with vitamin A, zinc, and iron, but it contains a complete protein as well. The basis of the recipe is a wild rice mixture that works well as a stand alone dish, or as an accompaniment to fish, beef, poultry or pork.
The history of this combination of foods is uncertain; however, it could be presumed that the good folks in Louisiana introduced the first “Oyster Dressing”, wherein oysters were added to a traditional bread-dressing recipe. Then later, someone thought they’d combine oysters with dirty rice, another Louisiana staple. And then one day, perhaps some Southern Belle in New Orleans didn’t have time to make dirty rice, so she improvised by using an herb seasoned wild rice mixture. And this is where our recipe begins.
Oysters are an integral ingredient in this version and are either farmed or wild-harvested in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. One serving of oysters is equivalent to six raw oysters, which provides 5 grams of protein and is high in calcium, potassium, magnesium, B12, zinc, and iron. Canned oysters are slightly higher in calories than fresh due to the packing oils (fat has 9 calories per gram). Additionally, oysters are also a complete protein, meaning that they provide the 13 essential amino acids our bodies cannot produce. Oysters are also gluten free and boost alkalinity, which is important in maintaining the body’s pH balance.
Fact or Myth?
Interestingly, the myth that oysters are aphrodisiacs may not just be a myth due to zinc. Zinc, which is commonly known as a cold preventative mineral, is essential for maintaining metabolism and blood sugar. But it is also crucial in monitoring the hormone testosterone, and serves as a key nutrient in sperm production. Ironically, oysters contain the highest amount of zinc of any food.
Another myth about oysters is when to eat them. Folklore says not to consume fresh oysters during months with no letter “R” in the name; as it turns out, this is not a myth. Oysters that are harvested during the months with no “R” (think May, June, July, August) are warmer months and warm-month harvesting could lead to the oysters being contaminated with the bacteria Vibrio vulnificus. This bacteria is rare, but it has been noted by the CDC. Also, women who are pregnant, persons with immunity concerns or any other health-related issues should always consult a physician prior to consuming oysters.
Chicken livers are the second ingredient that make this dish stand out; however, due to their high cholesterol content, it is recommended that chicken livers are consumed on a highly occasional basis. Chicken livers are a great source of the B vitamins, as well as vitamin A, iron,zinc and folate. They offer a great amount of vitamin B12, which is important because of its energy releasing properties and a small amount of Omega-6.
Both Omega 3 and 6 complete the nutritional profile of this recipe – Omega 3 from the oysters and Omega 6 from the chicken livers. Omega oils 3 and 6 are essential fatty acids (EFA) that must be consumed through diet; Omega-3 comes mostly from cold-water fish (salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines), and Omega-6 mostly from animal proteins (beef, chicken, poultry, pork). Omega-6 also comes from refined soy oil, which is prevalent in processed sweets, crackers and snack foods. Therefore, the majority of Americans are plentiful in Omega-6 but lack in Omega-3.
The challenge is to balance the consumption of the Omega EFA’s in correct proportion. Unfortunately, there is no “blanket” answer for the ratio or amount of EFA’s, as each person’s diet and lifestyle are widely different. That being said, this recipe provides a good balance of the EFA’s in that it includes oysters, which are a complete protein and provide Omega-3 essential fatty acids, and chicken livers, which provide a small amount of Omega-6.
Rice Gone Wild
This recipe also calls for an herb seasoned ‘wild’ rice mix. Wild rice, which is native to Minnesota, is almost black in color and has a long, thin shape. It is actually a form of wheat grass! It’s nutritional values outweigh brown and white rice, particularly in potassium and magnesium, which are critical to managing blood pressure. This makes it an ideal option for diabetics. Wild rice is also high in thiamin, niacin, iron and folate. Folate is essential to the body, particularly during pregnancy, as it prevents birth defects such as spinal bifida.
Relatively quick and easy, this recipe can be assembled in advance, refrigerated and later cooked the day of serving. The chicken livers are boiled in water until they are firm, about 25-30 minutes. The rice requires about 30 minutes and the assembly takes about 5 minutes. This dish is quite savory and goes well with beef tenderloin, prime rib, or roasted chicken. It is also excellent as a main dish.
When purchasing the oysters, check the date and source on the packaging (local is preferred); however, if you’re not near fresh sea water, ask the fishmonger when the oysters were delivered to the store… again, time and location are important when selecting fresh seafood of any type. Retain the oyster liquid. The oysters are simply chopped and added to the rice, along with the cooked/chopped chicken livers.
Wild Rice and Oyster Casserole (serves 10-12)
3 packages of herb-seasoned wild rice mix
16 oz. fresh, raw oysters and liquid
16 oz. chicken livers
6-8 cups chicken broth/stock
3-4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Green onions as garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Prepare rice according to directions; substitute water for chicken broth/stock.
- On medium heat, bring chicken livers to boil in water; let simmer until firm.
- In a large bowl, combine rice, chopped oysters, and chopped chicken livers.
- Season mixture with cayenne pepper.
- Place in a lightly oiled 9×13 baking dish.
- Drizzle remaining oyster juice over mixture.
- Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes or until rice is fluffy and oyster juice has dissipated; garnish with green onions.
- Use either an organic or non-GMO packaged herb rice mix or a scratch recipe.
- No salt is added due to the natural salt in the oysters and liquid.
- General proportions: 1/2 lb. oysters and 1/2 lb. chicken livers to 1 package rice.
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