Low-Country Oyster Roast
Feeds about a dozen folks
Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina, sits about 20 miles northeast of Savannah, Georgia. It’s one of the largest waterfront properties on the East Coast, full of nature preserves and walking trails, and with a swanky inn and spa that overlooks the May River. It’s a classy place, and every year they celebrate the region’s food and culture at the Music to Your Mouth culinary festival. After the event is done on Saturday, the organizers put on this supercool party for the visiting chefs as a sort of thank-you. They swing these massive cast-iron griddles out over a giant bonfire on the riverbank. They load up the griddles with May River oysters and roast ’em until they pop open. They dump the roasted oysters on a picnic table and you stand elbow to elbow with other guests, squeezing lemon juice or hot sauce onto the juiciest, sweetest, saltiest roasted oysters you’ve ever tasted. I love it. Every year, I spend the entire party time standing at the table. I feel like I’m knocking back a grotesque amount of oysters. One year, I came back from the event and apparently hadn’t gotten my fill because I developed this recipe to satisfy a need. I made a spicy emulsified butter sauce to spoon into the warm oysters. At first, I worried about serving this dish. People never have two minds about oysters: They either love them or hate them. I’ve since served these oysters hundreds of times, and all of six people have refused to try them. That’s a pretty good percentage. I should also mention that an exponentially large number of people ate this dish simply because it was put in front of them. And they ended up loving it!
1 bushel (12 dozen)
Prepared horseradish (not raw)
1/2 cup, cut into 8 chunks
- Heat a grill for direct medium-high heat.
- Spread the oysters in a single layer directly on the grill grate and cover with a wet towel. Close the lid of the grill or, if cooking on an open grill, cover with a large metal bowl or roasting pan (to capture the steam). Steam the oysters until they start to pop open, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the oysters to baking sheets.
- In a small saucepan, combine the lemon juice, Worcestershire, horseradish, Tabasco, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then pull from the heat and whisk in the butter, 1 chunk at a time, until melted. The sauce will separate as it sits, but that is not a problem; gently warm and stir it just before serving.
- To shuck the oysters, cover your hand with a thick glove or towel, cradle the oyster in your gloved hand, and gently pry open the hinged end with an oyster knife. Remove and discard the top shell and, using the knife, separate the oyster from the bottom shell. Spoon a small amount of the warm sauce onto each oyster and slurp it right out of the shell.