This recipe was the result of trying to give oysters a dash of Southern flair. Each facet of the recipe is designed to pair perfectly with its counterparts, but could easily be enjoyed all on their own as well.
* 'Singing' is an expression used in the South to describe food that is frying when it is crackling and bubbling at the surface of the oil.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, blanch the collard greens for 3-4 minutes until tender. Shock the collards in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain and squeeze well to remove any excess water.
In a medium-sized pot, melt the butter over medium heat and cook the ham until crispy, about 6 minutes. Transfer ham to a paper towel to drain and set aside. Add the shallots, garlic, and some salt and pepper to taste to the fat in the pot and cook, stirring constantly, until the shallots are tender, about 2-3 minutes.
Add the flour and continue to stir, mixing well so that the flour is well incorporated. Let the flour cook for 1 minute and then slowly whisk in the cream, a little at a time, to incorporate into the roux. Add the cayenne, hot sauce, and greens and cook for until the liquid is thick and the greens are tender, about 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Mash the garlic into a paste using salt and the back of a knife. Add to a bowl with the egg yolk, Tabasco, lemon juice, and mustard and whisk to incorporate. Slowly add the oil, 1 drop at a time, whisking constantly until the sauce is emulsified. The aioli should have a thin enough consistency to drizzle but thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If the aioli is too thick, whisk in 1-2 drops of water. Add salt and pepper to taste and allow to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Chill, covered, until ready to use.
Mix the buttermilk, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice together with the ½ teaspoon of pepper and ½ teaspoon of salt. Add the oysters and allow to marinate for 2-4 hours.
In a separate bowl, mix the grits, corn flour, and the rest of the seasonings together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. In a large heavy-bottom pot, heat the canola oil to 360 degrees. When the oil is hot enough, drain the oysters from the marinade and dredge them in the grit mixture. Do not dredge the oysters until your are ready to fry, as they will become too wet if they sit in the grits mixture for too long.
Carefully drop the oysters into the hot oil and allow to fry until they are golden brown and singing,* about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the oysters from the oil and drain on a paper towel. Season immediately with salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, place 1 tablespoon of the creamed collard greens on each of the 6 oyster shells. Place 1 oyster onto each pile of greens, and top with a drizzle of the Tabasco aioli and sprinkle of the crispy ham. Serve with lemon wedges and oyster forks.