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Chef Mark Usewicz on Grilled Oysters

"Pat Woodbury is a patient man. As soon as winter breaks I start to nag him for oysters. He serenely deflects my requests until the beginning of June when the oysters have become large enough to harvest. I took some of this first harvest with me on a late spring camping trip to the Berkshires. The wood fire smelled so good so I decided to grill them. I opened an oyster, piled a few chopped breadcrumbs, some minced garlic, and a little fresh thyme on top, finishing with a thin slice of butter. After a few minutes on the fire the butter melted into the crumbs and over the oyster imparting a subtle smoky flavor. Soon the cool night air was filled with aromas. These attracted not only my wife Bianca, but also a nosy (and quite obese) raccoon and, later that night, a shadowy, lumbering black bear."

Ingredients

  • 12 Wellfleet oysters, scrubbed
  • 1 1/2 Cups Sourdough bread, crusts removed & chopped roughly into large crumbs (Day old)
  • 1 Tbs. Thyme leaves, rough chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. Minced garlic
  • 3 Tbs. Unsalted butter, cut into 12 thin slivers
  • 1 Lemon, cut into wedges
  • Black Pepper

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To Prepare:

  1. Shuck the oysters being careful not to lose any of the liquor. Remove and discard the top shell.
  2. Divide the garlic and thyme between all of the oysters, put a grinding of black pepper onto each oyster (Sprinkle equal amounts of garlic and thyme on all the oysters along with a grind of fresh black pepper).
  3. Place about 1 loose Tbs. of bread (crumbs) on each oyster, less if the oysters are small (it’s about the oyster not the stuffing). Top with a sliver of butter.
  4. Carefully lay the oysters on a hot grill shell down. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the butter is melted and the oyster liquor bubbles around the edge. If you are doing this at home and want a crispy top, finish the oysters under a hot broiler for one minute. Alternatively the oysters can be baked in a 425 F degree oven for 10 minutes.
  5. Serve with lemon wedges.

Note: Take care not to burn your fingers by picking up a hot shell.


And, yes, we take garlic, thyme, unsalted butter and fresh lemon on camping trips. There is nothing like a well planned larder when inspiration strikes.