“What is an oyster, if not the perfect food?” Anthony Bourdain wrote in the second chapter of his book A chef’s tour† We couldn’t agree more, but what do you think of oysters?
Do oysters conjure vacation, an outdoor table under a parasol, glistening oysters on the half shell, your worries far away? Or is it a memory of a visit to the grand old Oyster Bar in New York where you first tasted Rockefeller oysters, creamy under a warm blanket of spinach and Hollandaise? Oysters imply feast, even if you pull them off a rock and gulp them down with only waves for company.
The question with oysters is how to prepare them: naturally or completely dressed up? The purist’s approach is delightful: Raw, with a slice of lemon and a slice of buttered bread. Or try oysters on the half shell with mignonette, pictured above. The smaller you chop the shallot pieces, the tastier the mignonette for your raw oysters. The sharp little onions add both sweetness and bite to the vinegar, balanced with the scent of pink peppercorns.
You could bake or broil them to put in po’ boys sandwiches, or roast them over open coals. And there are the old-fashioned dishes that deserve a serious revival, such as oyster stew (“a supper to sleep on,” wrote American food writer MFK Fisher in Consider the oyster), oyster casino and oyster dressing.
Peeled oysters with three sauces
It’s not easy to choose between the classic mignonette with its shallot-like bite, the zing of horseradish and the heat of jalapeño, but luckily you don’t have to choose; this oyster recipe lets you try all three dips.
Grilled oysters with composite brown butter
Cooking butter until the solids turn light brown turns it into a nutty sauce. With shallots and fresh herbs, it’s wonderful to spoon onto oysters hot off the grill. Dinner ready in 10 minutes!
Chesapeake blue crab cakes with fried oysters
You’d think it’s hard to make crispy crab cakes even more delicious, but top them with crispy and creamy fried oysters and they’re downright decadent.
Oyster stew with Virginia ham
If you’ve never made an oyster stew before, this comforting and incredibly flavorful dish will tempt you. Plump, tender oysters, savory ham, and a reduction of cider to balance out the cream will have you licking your bowl.
Warm crab and oyster dip
Sweet crab meat tumbled with crème frache and good cheese makes a luxurious bed for shelled oysters, which are nestled in the dip just before the dish is broiled until piping hot.
Oysters on the half shell with vinegar sauce
Fragrant with allspice and hot with chili, this spicy vinegar sauce is for heat lovers — and it’s delicious with cold oysters.
Mussels and oysters casino
Our mussels and oyster casino is filled with savory treats: ciabatta, pancetta, parmesan, garlic, red pepper, oregano, all smothered in vermouth. Butter makes them crispy when they sizzle under the grill.
Oyster bacon dressing
The Thanksgiving recipe for pairing smoky bacon with lean oysters is too good to limit to one occasion. Fragrant with celery, onion, white wine and sage, we think it’s an exquisite supper. Just add a crunchy salad.
Fried oyster Po’ Boys
If you’re baking an oyster, do it the traditional way with buttermilk and cornmeal. It makes a delicious crust. Slide the hot mollusks into hot dog buns and drizzle with tartar sauce.
Oyster and cracker dressing
Coarsely ground salty crackers mixed with good butter provide the base for fresh oysters in this rustic meal for a stormy day. Successive layers of crackers, thyme and oysters follow, moistened with cream, before the dressing is baked until bubbling.
Roasting oysters is easy. Covering them with bacon-rich compound butter is the chef’s taste, and easily done if the butter is prepared and refrigerated well in advance.
Herbsaint (an anise liqueur loved in New Orleans), baby spinach, watercress, tarragon and basil — oh my. This is a very fragrant twist on Oysters Rockefeller that will make your guests swoon.
Aromatic, creamy, with a crispy crust, scalloped oysters are an elegant and easy supper. Fragrant with aromas and a splash of sherry, the composite dish is briefly cooked in a red-hot oven.
Chilled oysters with apple-ginger mignonette
The crackling of sweet apples and the heat of fresh ginger transform a bold mignonette, the two flavors flirting with the oyster’s famous sea salt brine.
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