I watched Chef Emeril Lagasse make this on TV a while back. It's nuts. Just positively wacked. Butter. And bacon. And fried seafood. And eggs. And more butter with more eggs. And pork.

Well, this is why we love him. Just save this one for special occasions, and eat cereal most of the rest of the year.

Cook the bacon (it's easiest on a sheet pan in the oven) until crisp. Reserve the drippings for another use. Break each slice in half.

Butter the muffins and toast in a regular or toaster oven; keep warm.

Poach the eggs in barely simmering water to which a couple of teaspoons of vinegar have been added, until desired doneness (I like runny yolks, mmmm.) You can hold in a pan and refresh with hot water before serving.

Soak the oysters in buttermilk for a few minutes, then roll in a mixture of half flour and half cornmeal that has been seasoned with Creole seasoning, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Shake the oysters in a sieve to get rid of excess breading, then drop into hot oil at 360°F; fry until golden brown. Season with a little more salt and Creole seasoning as soon as they come out of the oil; drain on paper towels and keep warm.

For the tasso Hollandaise: In a stainless steel bowl set over a pot of simmering water over medium heat, whisk the egg yolks with the lemon juice, salt, Tabasco, and water until pale yellow and slightly thick and ribbony. (The old test -- you should be able to "blow a rose" on the surface.) Never let the bowl touch the water, and never let the water boil. Off the heat, drizzle the clarified butter into the egg yolks in a thin stream, whisking like hell all the while, until it's incorporated. Add the tasso and drippings and continue whisking for 30 seconds. Serve immediately or hold in a Thermos to keep warm.

Assembly: Place two muffin halves on each warmed plate. Top each muffin half with two half-slices of bacon and two fried oysters. Top each bacon-oyster muffin with a poached egg. Top with liberal amounts of tasso Hollandaise. Garnish with a bit of parsley and serve.

YIELD: 8 decadent brunch servings.


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Chuck Taggart   (e-mail chuck)