It’s a potent concept that can strike those who least expect it. Yes, friends, it happened to my non-cooking, food loving husband on a recent business trip to New Orleans. He came home raving and craving the grilled oysters smothered in butter and cheese that he and his client slurped down together at Drago’s before their flight home. And then, on Christmas Eve he took it a giant step further and went to Whole Foods to gather the ingredients he would need to replicate the dish which had so obviously blown him away.
This is my husband, the guy who only cooks one food, his butter and bread crumb stuffed chicken thighs with soy sauce, and usually doesn’t stray beyond a fried egg (sunny side up so he doesn’t have to flip it!) and some buttered toast. Yes friends, my husband made grilled oysters New Orleans style for family on Christmas Eve. What’s more, as his family gathered round the barbeque marveling at the fire encapsulating his sizzling oysters, he actually enjoyed cooking and serving others, snagging a mere two for himself. The oysters were sensational, delectable flame flavored morsels of lemon, garlic and a crust of cheese, which slid effortlessly from tongue to tummy, leaving the crowd clamoring for more.
With the left over butter, my husband decided to supplement his grilling extravaganza with some garlic shrimp. What he failed to realize was that the mixture would re-solidify in the chilly Christmas Eve air, requiring him to leave the shrimp untended on the grill while he popped back inside to melt the butter. By the time he got back out the shrimp was well on its way to becoming charcoal. But with the lingering memory of the oysters, the family ate and enjoyed his shrimp anyway. My husband realized later that had he appointed a sous chef to tend the grill while he re-melted the butter, his blooper would never have happened. I gently reminded him that this is a huge benefit of Cooking With Friends!
And so, the inspiration continues as my husband has offered to join me in creating our romantic New Year’s Eve feast. For the first time, I won’t be solo in the kitchen and it won’t be just my menu but ours. He’ll be tending the grill with flame flavored oysters and lobster tails and I’ll be manning the kitchen making soup, salad and molten chocolate cakes. Nothing will be charred since we’ll be making our multi course gourmet meal together. So as to avoid any heart related New Year’s illnesses, I’m planning to suggest he use a lot less butter and mix in some olive oil. He’s pretty intent about the importance of masses of butter so I may just have to give in.
Grilled Oysters New Orleans Style
3 dozen freshly shucked oysters
1 pound butter
3 tablespoons minced Garlic
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 or 2 lemons
½ cup freshly grated Romano cheese
Salt and pepper
To grill oysters, my husband had them pre-shucked courtesy of Whole Foods. They recommended using them within 30 minutes and packed them carefully on ice. He made a butter mixture which consisted of butter, freshly minced garlic (a few tablespoons), a few dashes of cayenne pepper, freshly ground black pepper and a generous amount of kosher salt. He melted it all together in the microwave. He then put the oysters on the half shell on a hot grill, squeezed a bit of lemon in each and allowed them to steam in their own juices for about 3 minutes or until the edges began to curl up. He then ladled a spoonful of butter mixture into each oyster, taking care to leak a good amount between the shells in order to cause the grill to flame up. (Careful though since this is dangerous! You can lose some hair on your arms.) He suggests starting in the back of the grill first moving forward to avoid loss of eyebrows. After letting the butter mixture cook for a few minutes, sprinkle grated Romano cheese into each oyster and cook until crispy. Sprinkle fresh parsley on each oyster just before serving and eat hot.