The Broiled Oyster
by Adam Roberts
Now that you’ve broken out those grills (happy belated Fourth of July, by the way), I’d like to draw your attention to something that you probably haven’t grilled before, but something that will blow you away once you do grill it. That would be the oyster.
They’re called “broiled oysters” but, as you can see after the jump, they’re cooked on a grill. And those flames are serious, so watch out!
Rumor has it that Drago’s keeps a giant vat of softened butter that’s mixed with garlic, parsley, and Parmesan cheese. Apparently they use an ice cream scoop to get the butter from the vat to the oyster. An ice cream scoop. That’s a lot of butter.
But that butter doesn’t just make the oyster delicious; the oyster itself is almost besides the point. What happens is that these oysters–which are halved first so they sit, open-faced, on the grill–release juices as they cook. The juices mingle with the butter, the garlic, and the Parmesan and by the time everything’s bubbly, you have an intoxicating elixir that exists exclusively for you to sop it up with good bread. Sopping up that mixture with bread is the best part.
And addictive. I must’ve worked my way through five or six buttery oysters at that meal. I could have eaten more.
The broiled oyster, though, isn’t just limited to the way they do it at Drago’s. At Cochon, one of New Orleans’ greatest restaurants, the broiled oysters look like this:
I can’t find a recipe for it but they were spicy, so my guess is that they contained some kind of hot sauce. You’ll have to ask Donald Link (the chef there) the next time you meet him.
The key seems to be making a flavored butter and adding a lot of that flavored butter to the oyster before throwing it on the grill. I bet there are endless possibilities to how you flavor that butter: what about pesto butter? Or an Asian-inspired butter with soy sauce, ginger, scallions, and garlic? Or a simple herb butter with lots of minced chives, basil, tarragon, and dill? (You may still want to add garlic there because garlic really pops when it mixes with the oyster juices and the butter.)
The point is, don’t just throw hot dogs on the grill this summer. Broaden your horizons and buy a bunch of oysters. You’ll need an oyster knife to get them open (Daniel Delaney has a helpful video on broiled oysters that takes you all the way through the process) and lots and lots of butter.
And, most importantly, bread. Serving broiled oysters without crusty bread is like serving those aforementioned hot dogs without mustard. In other words, a criminal offense for which the punishment should be severe.