The name of this dish is as interesting as its history! There are two distinct versions of how it got its name…
The first story comes from a man who was to be hanged in the town and was given a last meal request. He asked that his meal contain Olympian oysters, bacon, and eggs, which were all expensive and had to be shipped in. While he was waiting for the delivery his buddies broke him out of jail.
The second is about a miner who struck it rich in Hangtown, now known as Placerville. He supposedly walked into the El Dorado Hotel and asked the cook to make him the most expensive meal they offered. They cook said oysters, bacon, and eggs were the most expensive ingredients, so the mixed them all together and the Hangtown Fry was born.
In 1948 a Placerville newspaper wrote a story called, GOLD RUSH RECIPE STILL GOOD EATIN’. They wrote the following:
Hangtown, known for swift justice and a dish called the Hangtown Fry–an elusive mixture of oysters, eggs, bacon, and maybe some onions…this unique omelet was part of the Gold Rush…The local chamber of commerce approves this version: In ’49 a miner who had struck it rich at Shirttail Bend, hungry from short rations, staggered into Placerville, then called Hangtown because of the ease with which local lawbreakers found themselves strung up to oak boughs.
At the first available eatery he passed up the grizzly bear steaks and demanded the best and most expensive food to be had. That turned out to be eggs and oysters.
‘Fry me plenty of both and throw in some bacon,’ were the words creating the Hangtown Fry.
Both are equally as good as the dish itself.
Here is the recipe from that same paper:
4 strips bacon, chopped
4 medium oysters
4 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste (Genie’s addition)
Fry the bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Remove. Saute the oysters in the bacon fat for about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, salt and pepper, and bacon. Cook over medium heat until the edges are set but the center is still soft. Flip over and cook for another two minutes. Food in half and serve. Serves one hungry miner or two city folks.