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And the Valley Cooks: Chargrilled Oysters

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Twist up your spring-time grillin’.

Chargrilled 3 Billy Gomila

Drago’s Restaurant in the Bucktown Fat City area of Metairie really got itself on the map with it’s original twist on oysters. Coat them with lots of butter and garlic and cheese and set them suckers ablaze!

Grilled oysters have become pretty ubiquitous at most nicer seafood restaurants in Southeast Louisiana over the last 10 years or so. They’ve always been something you could do at home if you felt like shucking and handling the shells yourself, but now you can find a number of specialty trays that allow you to just add some shucked oysters and ingredients and throw them on your own gas grill. My wife recently picked me up a cast-iron version of these, which, per a quick Google search, can be found at any number of stores that sell grilling accouterments.

As for a recipe, a version of Drago’s is available in a number of cookbooks, including the different John Folse Encyclopedias and other New Orleans-based books. It is remarkably simple:

Ingredients

8 sticks (2 lbs) butter, softened
12 cup finely chopped garlic
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
6 dozen oysters — on the half-shell, or pre-shucked
1 cup grated Parmesan and Romano cheese (combined)
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
Plenty of French bread for dipping

Note: if you’re gonna grill these on the half shell, prepare for a lot of flame-ups and take the appropriate precautions. In a pan like this, there won’t be as much spillage. Safer, but you also don’t get that delicious char on the surface.

Note Two: seriously, don’t skimp on the bread.

Instructions

  1. Combine the butter, garlic, pepper and oregano. There are two schools of thought on the method: you can just melt all this together if you like in a sauce pan — I recommend a small amount of olive oil in the bottom to help keep the butter from browning — to pour over the oysters, or you can just spoon a softened mixture on and let it melt and cook the oysters simultaneously. The former is a little faster.
  2. Heat a grill — gas is much easier, but charcoal is fine if you prefer. Place your oysters or pan over the hottest part and add the butter mixture.
  3. When the oysters puff up and curl, they’re cooked and start to curl on the edges. Sprinkle the cheese mixture and the parsley on top of the oysters, remove to a pan and serve immediately.

Six dozen oysters will serve about eight-to-twelve people, or much fewer if you’re serious. My dad and I could probably put away at least two dozen each on our own.