Get Those Oysters Onto the Table

             For those of us who celebrate Thanksgiving, we all have our go-to recipes and dishes. For most, the thought of this holiday conjures images of roasted turkeys, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pies and casseroles all steaming in their bowls and baking pans, a large spoon alongside each so we can heap our plates high with some our favorite foods.

            However, if you live alongside the coast, there may be another food that has become a staple on your thanksgiving table: oysters. In certain areas of the country, especially by the marshy southeast coast and the stony northeast beaches, these bivalves are so abundant that it can be hard to find a large gathering at which they are not being baked, steamed, mixed in to other dishes or enjoyed raw on the half-shell. I’m sure those who are used to seeing oysters on the table have their favorite ways to enjoy them, though maybe you will find some new ideas and inspiration here.

           For some of you, though, the thought of having oysters at such a traditional event as Thanksgiving is unimaginable. Perhaps you have only seen this delicious food on ice at seafood restaurants, and bringing a few home to include with your meal feels a little foreign, maybe even intimidating.

            Well, we don’t want you to miss out on all the mouth-watering fun, so this is a guide for you. These recipes and tricks of the trade will have you enjoying some wonderful oysters from the comfort of your own home in no time.

STEAMED OYSTERS

steamed-oysters

Ok, so this is perhaps the easiest place to start. For those of you who don’t have a large steamer, a colander placed inside a large soup pot with a little water in the bottom will do.

Start with the desired number of unshelled oysters (you will probably want more than you think you will!). Make sure all of the shells are tightly closed to ensure freshness. If any of the oysters are open, go ahead and discard.

Place the oysters in your steamer or in the colander that you have fit inside your soup pot and bring the water up to low boil for maybe 15-20 minutes. When the shells have loosely opened, it’s time to take them off the stove.

The oysters are best opened with a special dull, thick knife specific for this purpose, but can also be opened with a blunt butter knife. Gloves or a rag are recommended to protect your hands from the shells.

The key to enjoying oysters this way is the dipping sauce. There are two that you simply can’t go without when having steamed oysters.

LEMON BUTTER SAUCE

1 Stick Salted Butter

1 Lemon

Salt and/or garlic powder to taste

Warm up the butter on the stove and add the lemon juice and salt or garlic powder, if you so choose. Serve in a bowl alongside the oysters.

COCKTAIL SAUCE

I cup ketchup

2-3 heaping teaspoons of horseradish.

Worchester sauce, to taste

Combine all three in a bowl. Be sure to check for desired spice levels, due to the horseradish. Serve alongside the oysters with a box of saltine crackers.

OYSTER STEW

oysterstew

This is a buttery, salty, oh-so-wonderful classic. It has few ingredients but it packs in a lot of flavor that will soon make it one of your top holiday recipes.

1 pint shucked oysters in their liquid

4 tablespoons butter

2 medium shallots, minced

1 small garlic clove minced

salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

4 cups milk

2 cups heavy cream

2 to 3 drops Tabasco sauce, or to taste

Oyster crackers

Extra butter (optional)

Separate the oysters from their liquid. Pass the liquid through a fine strainer to remove any sand or bits of shell (that’s how you know it’s fresh!). Chill the oysters and liquid in separate containers.

In a 3 to 4-quart saucepan melt the butter over medium heat, stir in the shallots and sauté until shallots are soft and lightly translucent.

At this point, add the garlic, a few pinches of salt and pepper. Cook 30 seconds.

Then, stir in the milk, cream, oyster liquid and Tabasco. Bring them to a simmer. Cook for 2 minutes at a gentle bubble, but be sure that they don’t boil over. Just a simmer will do.

Turn the heat down so the liquid is just under boiling, then blend in the oysters and cook them for just a minute or until their edges begin to curl. Don’t overcook them! Serve the stew right away with oyster crackers. Some people like to swirl extra slivers of butter into each serving.

(Recipe and Photo from The Splendid Table, http://www.splendidtable.org/recipes/classic-creamy-oyster-stew)

 

DEVILS ON HORSEBACK

devilsonhorseback

Impress your guests and relatives with this classic hors d’oeuvre, served on a crisp and buttery baguette.

6 tbsp. unsalted butter

2 tbsp. finely chopped garlic

1⁄2 small baguette (about 4 oz.), cut into eight 1″-thick slices

10 slices bacon, cut into 2″ pieces

3 scallions, finely chopped

1⁄4 cup white wine

2 tsp. lemon juice, plus wedges for serving

8 oysters, shucked, with juices reserved

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tbsp. roughly chopped parsley, for garnish

First, heat your oven to 400°.

Melt 4 tbsp. butter in a small pan, and mix with 1 tsp of garlic. Brush the baguette slices with the butter and arrange on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly toasted, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

While you’re doing that, cook the bacon in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat until crispy, about 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain, reserving bacon fat for another use, and set the bacon aside.

Heat the remaining butter in the skillet. Add the remaining garlic and the scallions, and cook, stirring, just a few minutes until soft.

Add wine, lemon juice, oysters with their juices, and salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until oysters begin to curl at the edges, about 3 minutes. Transfer the oysters to a bowl and cover to keep them warm.

Continue to cook sauce until thickened and reduced by half. This should take about 10 minutes.

Divide oysters and sauce among baguette slices; top with reserved bacon and garnish with parsley.

(Recipe and photo from Saveur, http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Oysters-Garlic-Bread)

OYSTER DRESSING 

grandmasrecipe

This one is from my family’s personal arsenal of all-time favorite recipes. The instructions and ingredients were handwritten on index cards by my grandmother and passed down so we could continue to enjoy this dressing year after year. Now, I’m sharing this beautifully put-together dish with all of you.

8 oz Pepperidge Farm Stuffing Mix (or another similar breadcrumb mix will do)

1 pint of fresh, drained oysters

1 egg

5 yellow onions

butter

Small amount of reserved liquid from turkey (this recipe assumes you baked a Turkey, as we often do at this time of the year)

Small amount of gravy, to taste

Drain your oysters reserving a small amount of the flavorful brine.

Chop the onions and sauté in the butter until they are soft. Mix the sautéed onions with the stuffing and add one beaten egg.

Add drippings from your turkey and mix in small amount of your turkey gravy. Add the oysters and the reserve of brine from the oysters.

Blend gently and make sure the dressing is moist. You may need to add turkey broth to moisten.

Add butter to the top and bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

So there you have it: a nice starter list of simple and delicious oyster recipes for you and your friends and family to try this Thanksgiving. Be sure to get fresh, high quality oysters like the ones that St. Jude Farm’s can supply. To find out which retail locations near you carry our products, please give us a call at 843-844-2221.

Happy holidays!