Brave is the man who first ate an oyster, and were he alive today, he’d regret advertising their flavor. Once common and cheap, they’re now getting pricey. Oysters can be fried, put in all kinds of soups, baked with a creamy mushroom or crab sauces, or prepared a hundred other ways. But none are better than a just-opened salty oyster with a little horseradish and lemon red sauce. That’s me talking. Kat likes her food cooked, with the exceptions of strawberries and Chardonnay.
We go way back with oysters. Oysters Bienville headlined our rehearsal dinner. Brother Ed and I slurped down many a cold squiggly at Monsour’s #2 in Shreveport long before its building was razed to become a parking garage. Did we really pay only $1 a dozen? Oh, those were the days!
A few years ago we lived in the New Orleans area. Now and then we dined at one of its famous Acme Oyster House locations. There the Kat discovered chargrilled oysters, and it was love at first bite. You couldn’t get out of there for less than $60 – that’s a minimal chargrilled oyster lunch for two — but we were gainfully employed, and it always tasted like money well spent. Now that we are on a more fixed (than broken) income, we reserve most of our funds for travel. The rule is, “If Jackson can cook it, there ain’t no need to go to that restaurant.” And I’m here to tell you I – and you too, should you be so inclined – can rock chargrilled oysters even on a $15 Wal*Mart Made in China covered grill.
Yes you can!
There are two basic chargrilled recipes. There’s a simple one favored by Drago’s, a Croatian seafood joint in Metairie. It is very good, yet short of great. And then there’s the Acme recipe. I don’t currently have dried thyme, so I just left it out. One time I had no lemons and had to substitute white wine vinegar for juice. The outcomes were incredibly good either way, probably better if I had followed the recipe, whose link is right here.
Yeah, it’s a LOT of garlic, but it works even when I use full garlic and seasonings and halve the butter. Use too much butter and it’s going to spill onto your coals and flame up. Acme spills a lot of butter on their grills, which I think is the cause of that occasional scent of charcoal lighter on their oysters. Short the beurre and you’ll get fewer flare-ups, and a pure oyster, cheese, and sauce flavor.
Freshly shucked oysters are the gold standard, but I want to retain full use of both my paws: I buy them by the quart or half-gallon and use Corning Ware ramekins or sea scallop shells as grilling vessels. Gulf oysters are favored by some, but I hear that both Atlantic and Pacific oysters work just as well.
We’re going up the Pacific Coast this spring and summer, and we shall grill a batch or two of their local product. I’ll look for Penn Cove Selects, Kusshis, Kumamotos, and maybe Olympias. Some of mine will go down off the half shell. All of Kat’s will be charbroiled. We will keep you posted.