Grilled Oysters and Champagne

October 18, 2010

I love making good food, but there’s a real soft spot in my heart for good food that somebody else makes for me. The good food I have in mind right now is grilled oysters,  and the somebody is none other than Chef Adam Bernstein of Adam’s Sustainable Table in Eugene, Oregon. And it was all for a very good cause.

Bubbles, Bivalves, Birds & a Bake Sale was the fundraiser’s official name, but I’m thinking Oyster and Champagne Heaven is more apt.

The purpose was to raise money for Slow Food Eugene’s delegates to this year’s Terra Madre meeting in Torino, Italy. Domaine Meriwether of Veneta, Oregon, hosted the afternoon, and Buzz Kawders kept our glasses bubbling with the very perfectly paired 2000 Captain Clarke Vintage Cuvee.

Chef Bernstein and Liu Xin of Oregon Oyster Farms shelled oysters as easily as if they were shelling peanuts, and they kept the serving dishes full of raw Pacific, Kumumoto, and Olympic oysters. My next visit to Newport, Oregon, will definitely included a shopping spree at Oregon Oyster Farms. (Not local? They ship next day air!!)

Oysters, oysters, and more oysters!

I wasn’t counting, nor could I have counted after all that champagne, but I’d be very surprised if I ate fewer than 2 dozen of these gems. As much as I love a good raw oyster — and ohh, those tiny Kumumotos were as sweet as can be — it was the grilled Pacific oysters that made my taste buds soar.

Out of the three types of grilled oysters, my favorites were the Oysters Rockefeller and the Oysters with Maitre D’Hotel butter. I was too busy eating to think to ask for recipes during the event, and I’m sure Adam has his hands full this week getting ready for his excursion to Italy, so the recipes I’m sharing here are not Adam’s. Not to worry. If you take a good oyster and add butter, herbs and heat, the end result just has to be good.

There are many, many versions of Oysters Rockefeller out there. After perusing a dozen or so online, this one gets my vote. Apologies that I haven’t tried it at home first.

GumboPages.com

I found just as many recipes for Hotel Butter, but I was specifically looking for one that incorporated shallots, as Adam’s did. According to what I read online, a stash of this butter is great to have in the refrigerator or freezer to perk up seafood, meat, pasta, vegetables, or just about anything else.

Maitre D’Hotel Butter

Grilled (or broiled) Oysters with Hotel Butter

  • 1 1/2 to 3 dozen large oysters (4 – 6 per person is safe, although my husband could easily eat 2 or three dozen in a sitting)
  • Hotel butter per above link

You’ll also need one or more of these:

  • tray of rock salt
  • heavy gloves
  • sturdy tongs

Seriously suggested:

  • a bottle of Champagne or Methode Champenoise Sparkling Wine

Mix the butter as detailed in the link above. If making ahead of time, roll into a log and chill. It’s also fine to use it soft. Depending on how much butter you like on your oysters, this is enough for 1 1/2 dozen up to 3 dozen.

Preheat your barbecue (very hot) or broiler. Open your oysters and discard the top shell. (If you can’t open an oyster without either stabbing yourself or splintering the shell into a hundred shards, see below.**)

Divide the butter between the oysters — less than a teaspoon each isn’t enough, and more than a tablespoon IS A LOT OF BUTTER. Not that that’s a problem, but it will likely spill and get wasted anyway, so why not save it for more oysters. Place them either directly on the grill if you can keep them flat on the grate. If not, nestle them into a tray of rock salt.  Grill/broil for about 5 – 6 minutes, just until the edges of the oysters start to curl. Keep a close eye as they’ll overcook in a flash.

**Don’t worry. I can’t open an oyster either. Here’s what to do: Place them on the grill unopened. After about a minute, they should open on their own. Remove, and pry the shell the rest of the way open, and discard the top shell. Add butter and return to grill. Cook about 5 more minutes — just until the edges of the oysters start to curl.)

Mmmm… just writing this down makes me want to eat more oysters! Too bad we already polished off that lovely bottle of Domaine Meriwether I brought home…

Enjoy ~

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