Pop Quiz: What are the TOP 3 Best Food Cities in America? If you drill down too far, you could get lost in regional delights (I would LOVE to do that sometime), but my quick fire response would be: New York, San Francisco and New Orleans. Not necessarily in that order. In fact, New Orleans would probably rank first, just for their sincere and abiding love of seafood, spice and butter. Who can argue with that?
So for Mardi Gras, since we won’t be reveling in the French Quarter (darn-it), we’re making some fabulous grilled oysters, N’Awlins style. These oysters came from the Rappahannock River Oyster Company in Rappahannock, Virginia. I’m partial – since I’m from this region of the country — and to me, these are the best! Not too big, creamy and briny and utterly slurp-able! Fantastic raw on the half shell, but completely indulgent when bathed in a spicy butter!
The simple topping for these bivalves is a rich combination of melted butter, smoked paprika, cayenne, worcestershire, lemon and parsley – and it takes about 5 minutes to make. I love that.
If you’ve ever shucked oysters, you know that sometimes it can be a struggle finding the hinge to pry it open. When you grill the oysters, the frustration is alleviated because they will open for you… a beautiful yawn that makes it easy to remove the top shell. Just be sure that you put the “cup” side down on the grill — you don’t want the briny liquor to seep out when the shell opens.
After just a few minutes on the fire, the oysters are ready. Just spoon the butter sauce over the top and add a few drops of your favorite hot sauce for a little extra tangy heat! I recommend Crystal’s — it’s a Louisiana favorite!
Mardi Gras Grilled Oysters
- 1 dozen oysters in their shell
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 1/2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ~ 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper depending on how spicy you like it
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon parsley chopped fresh
- hot sauce such as 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.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter and add the worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, lemon juice and parsley - stir to combine and remove from heat.
- 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. Arrange the oysters on a platter and spoon one teaspoon of the butter sauce over each oyster. Garnish with a few drops of your favorite hot sauce (we like Crystal). Serve.
More Succulent Shellfish Specialties: