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The best ways to enjoy oysters at home  

“What is an oyster, if not the perfect food?” Anthony Bourdain wrote in the second chapter of his book A Cook’s Tour. We couldn’t agree more—but how do you feel about oysters?

Do oysters conjure up a vacation, an outdoor table under an umbrella, glistening oysters on the half-shell, your worries far away? Or are they a memory of a visit to the grand old Oyster Bar in New York where you tasted oysters Rockefeller for the first time, creamy under a warm blanket of spinach and Hollandaise? Oysters imply celebration—even if you pulled them off a rock and slurped them with only waves for company.

The question with oysters is how to prepare them: Au naturel or all dressed up? The purist’s approach is delightful: Raw, with a wedge of lemon and a slice of buttered bread. Or try oysters on the half shell with mignonette, pictured above. The smaller you mince the pieces of shallot, the better the mignonette for your raw oysters will be. The sharp little onions add both sweetness and bite to the vinegar, balanced with the fragrance of pink peppercorns.

You could bake or fry them to tuck into rolls for po’ boys, or roast them over open coals. And there are the old-school dishes that deserve serious revival, like oyster stew (“a supper to sleep on” wrote American food writer MFK Fisher in Consider the Oyster), oysters casino, and oyster dressing.

Oyster Recipes to try at Home

Shucked oysters with three sauces

Oyster recipes
Image Credit: Thomas Loof

It’s not easy to choose between the classic mignonette with its shallot-y bite, the zing of horseradish, and the heat of jalapeño but luckily you don’t need to choose; with this oyster recipe, you can try all three dipping sauces.

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Grilled oysters with compound brown butter

Brown butter
Image Credit: Paola + Murray

Cooking butter until the solids turn pale brown transforms it into a nutty sauce. With shallots and fresh herbs it is delicious spooned atop oysters hot from the grill. Dinner ready in 10 minutes!

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Chesapeake blue crab cakes with fried oysters

Oyster recipes
Image Credit: Mikkel Vang

You might think it’s hard to make crisp crab cakes even more delicious, but top them with crunchy-and-creamy fried oysters and they are downright decadent.

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Oyster stew with Virginia ham

Oyster recipes
Image Credit: Mikkel Vang

If you have never made an oyster stew, this comforting and incredibly flavourful dish will beguile you. Plump, tender oysters, savoury ham, and a cider reduction to balance the cream will have you licking your bowl.

Hot Crab-and-Oyster Dip

Hot Crab
Image Credit: Mikkel Vang

Sweet crabmeat tumbled with crème fraîche and good cheese makes a luxurious bed for shucked oysters, which are nestled into the dip just before the dish is broiled until bubbling hot.

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Oysters on the half shell with vinegar sauce

Oyster recipes
Image Credit: Mikkel Vang

Fragrant with allspice and hot with chillis, this spicy vinegar sauce is for heat-lovers‑and it’s wonderful with cold oysters.

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Clams and oysters casino

Clams
Image Credit: Meredith Jenks

Our clams and oysters casino are filled with savoury titbits: ciabatta, pancetta, parmesan, garlic, red pepper, oregano, all soused in vermouth. Butter makes them crisp as they sizzle under the broiler.

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Oyster-and-bacon dressing

Oyster recipes
Image Credit: Anna Willams

The Thanksgiving recipe of pairing smoky bacon with svelte oysters is too good to limit to one occasion. Fragrant with celery, onion, white wine and sage, we think it makes a superb supper. Just add a crisp-leafed salad.

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Fried oyster Po’ Boys

Oyster recipes
Image Credit: Bryan Gardner

When you do fry an oyster, do it the time-honoured, buttermilk-and-cornmeal way. It delivers a delectable crust. Slip the hot mollusks into hot dog buns and slather with tartare sauce.

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Oyster and cracker dressing

Cracker Dressing
Image Credit: Marcus Nilsson

Coarsely ground saltine crackers mixed with good butter is a foundation for fresh oysters in this rustic meal for a blustery day. Successive layers of crackers, thyme, and oysters follow, moistened with cream, before the dressing is baked until bubbling.

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Roasted oysters

Oyster recipes
Image Credit: David E. Steele

Roasting oysters is easy. Topping them with bacon-rich compound butter is the chef’s touch, and easily done if the butter is prepped well in advance and chilled.

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Oysters rockefeller

Rockefeller

Herbsaint (an anise liqueur loved in New Orleans), baby spinach, watercress, tarragon, and basil—oh my. This is a very fragrant spin on oysters Rockefeller that will make your guests swoon.

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Scalloped oysters

Scalloped
Image Credit: Marcus Nilsson

Aromatic, creamy, with a crunchy crust, scalloped oysters are an elegant and easy supper. Fragrant with aromatics and a dash of sherry, the assembled dish is cooked briefly in a searing-hot oven.

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Chilled oysters with apple-ginger mignonette

Oyster recipes
Image Credit: Marcus Nilsson

The crunch of sweet apples and the heat of fresh ginger transform a stalwart mignonette, the two flavours flirting with the oyster’s famous seaside brine.

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This story first appeared on www.marthastewart.com

(Main and Feature Image Credit: John Kernick)

© 2021 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved. Licensed from MarthaStewart.com and published with permission of Meredith Corporation. Reproduction in any manner in any language in whole or in part without prior written permission is prohibited.

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