You’re either an oyster person or not. I am. Definitely. I grew up near the Chesapeake Bay and my paternal grandmother lives near Rappahannock — and the river where they harvest what I consider the best oysters on the East Coast. In fact, a few years ago Food and Wine did an article highlighting this hometown favorite and the fortitude of two cousins working to resurrect this delicacy. So when I received a UPS package two days before Christmas stamped “Rappahannock Oyster Company, ” I was doing my happy dance as I ripped into the box!
I’ll start with a huge thank you to my grandmother, Myne and my Aunt Lynne and Uncle Buck for this fabulous holiday surprise! It was like getting a taste of home and we are so appreciative!
Oysters in their shell are special. Rough and craggy on the outside with a smooth, shiny pearlescence on the interior, these bivalves don’t come with an easy close zipper or fancy packaging — they’re the real deal. Treat them with respect. We love raw oysters on the half shell with a lively mignonette or nose-hair curling horseradish sauce but for these beauties, we opted to grill them instead. With a citrusy garlic-cilantro-butter sauce and rustic grilled toasts, these oysters are utterly sublime!
They only take a few minutes on a hot grill and the sauce comes together quickly as well — and after all the prep and cooking from the holidays, we could use a quick, easy dish, right?
I like a little heat with my oysters and for that (and to cut the buttery richness of the sauce) Crystal is my pick. It has a vinegary tang that’s very complimentary to this dish. We cracked open some cold beer to serve with these bivalves, but if you’re planning this for New Year’s Eve, you might try a different bubbly.
Citrusy Grilled Oysters
- 1 dozen oysters in their shells
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large garlic clove minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh lime zest
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro minced
- 2-3 teaspoons olive oil
- 4 slices hearty artisan bread such as kalamata olive bread, rustic sourdough or ciabatta
- Lime wedges
- chopped cilantro
- favorite hot sauce we like Crystal
Heat the grill to high heat - about 450°-500°.
Scrub the oyster to remove any mud or grit and rinse under cool water, set aside.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat and add the minced garlic. Cook for about 1-2 minutes so that the butter is fragrant. Add the lime zest, lime juice and cilantro. Stir and set aside.
Brush the slices of bread with the olive oil. Grill the bread for 1-2 minutes per side until it starts to take on color and get crispy. Transfer the bread to a platter.
Place the oysters flat side up on the hot grill (you don't want the oyster liquor to escape -- so make sure the rounded side is resting on the grill grates). Cook on the grill for 3-4 minutes, just until the oysters crack open slightly. Transfer the oysters to a platter.
Using an oyster shucker, slip the tip of the shucker into the opened crack in the oyster. Run the oyster shucker back to the hinge of the oyster and twist it to open. If the oyster is still attached to the muscle on the shell, run the shucker between the oyster and the muscle to detach, being careful not to spill any of the liquid. Discard the flat part of the shell. Arrange the oysters on a platter and spoon one teaspoon of the butter sauce over each oyster. Garnish with wedges of lime, chopped fresh cilantro and a few drops of your favorite hot sauce (we like Crystal). Serve with grilled bread.