Talk about life changing… I just embraced raw oysters about two years ago after years of a suppressed memory of my parents feeding me an oyster at the age of 3 – which, as the story goes, I politely put in my mouth and then unobtrusively let “slither” out of the side of my mouth. So, 40 years later, I came to love oysters (raw) and could hardly get enough. I even converted Bryan, and we became regulars at Tom’s Oyster Bar and Northern Lakes Seafood. I bought an oyster knife and got a personal shucking lesson at Papa Joe’s and taught Bryan how to shuck (he proved to be a natural, so now he’s the official shucker). We have enjoyed oysters at home ever since. And then, we experienced grilled oysters while vacationing in Muskegon last summer. The grilled oysters were amazing, so we asked how they were prepared. What we learned was that the chef put the seasoned oysters on the grill and immediately covered them (sort of a steaming technique). So, here it is late April (not a month that ends in the letter “R” but I managed to find amazing oysters at a local specialty grocery (while on my never-ending hunt for Spring bounties like ramps, fiddleheads, and morels). I decided we should grill them. So, after some internet research, we decided to prepare a “butter” made with the incredible bacon we had purchased from our favorite pork farmers at Melo Farms. The unfortunate part is that I only had a dozen oysters – rather than, like four, so we savored every one (and froze our leftover “amazing oyster butter” for another round). I bought the varieties of oysters we like to eat raw (typically small ones from P.E.I or New Brunswick), but I would recommend buying larger “meatier” varieties for grilling.
- 24-48 Fresh Raw Oysters
- 3 Slices Good Quality Smoked Bacon (Applewood or Hickory)
- 2 Sticks Unsalted Butter
- 4 Cloves Fresh Garlic – peeled
- 1 TBS. Dried Italian Herb Blend (or your favorite blend of herbs)
- 2 TBS. Fresh parsley (or 1 TBS. dried)
- 1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
- 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
- 1/2 tsp. Fresh Ground Pepper
- 2 TBS. Dry White Wine (optional)
- 2 Lemons
Cook bacon until crispy; allow to drain on a paper towel. Put bacon in food processor or blender, add butter, garlic, herbs, cayenne, salt and pepper. Blend until all ingredients are completely incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl of processor. With machine running, add wine and blend for another 30 seconds. Cut a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper (enough to cover a 2″ x 6′ log of butter) and lay on a work surface. Scrape butter mixture onto wrap/paper. Form butter into a log about 2″ in diameter. Wrap and chill until firm (about 2 hours in refrigerator or 30 minutes in freezer). In the meantime, preheat grill to about 400-450 degrees. Shuck oysters and leave in bottom shell – do NOT drain the delightful “oyster liquor.” Place oysters on a plate of ice, just as you would if serving raw. Once butter is chilled, cut into 1/4″ slices and place one slice on each oyster. Place oysters on the grill and cover with a lid (one large or several small). We used the lid to a large soup pot and it worked great. Cook covered oysters for 4-8 minutes (depending on size of oysters) until butter is fully melted and browned. Transfer oysters to a serving platter and squeeze fresh lemon over the top of oysters – serve immediately.