While I have long loved cooked oysters, until recently, I hadn't made them at home. And for what reason, I can't even begin to fathom (now that I'm an oysters-at-home cook), as they are super-easy to prepare.
To avoid purchasing a chain-mail oyster-shucking glove (or deal with the alternative, an almost guaranteed six-hour emergency room visit for what would surely be my gashed palm), the oysters were first steamed just until their shells cracked open. They were then removed from the steamer basket to the sink, where they were doused with cold water. A quick (and wound-free) pry apart of the shells then found them on a baking sheet, where the breadcrumb mixture was applied atop each oyster.
With greens and sliced lemon, the appetizer was then complete, voila - a fancy, restaurant-style appetizer completely suitable for a romantic dinner for two.
Broiled Oysters with Buttery Breadcrumbs:
4 large Jordan Brothers Seafood oysters
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons deli mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
freshly ground black pepper
Raise your oven rack to the second position from the top. Preheat the broiler.
First, rinse the oysters to remove any sand from the shells. I do this as a matter of habit and preference. I don't really want to present sandy shelled oysters to my dining companion. Grit is no diner's friend, as we know.
Once rinsed of sand, steam the oysters until their shells just pop open, as described above. Rinse them in cold water so that they're easier to handle, then pull the shells apart, leaving the oyster intact on one of the shells.
The shells have a flat(-ish) side and a curved side. The curved side strongly and conveniently resembles a cup. A cup that we are going to fill with oyster and breadcrumbs. If it happens that your oyster ends up on the flat part of the shell, it's perfectly okay to gently remove the oyster from that side and place it on the other, cup-resembling side of the shell. We want to be able to load the breadcrumbs atop the oyster while broiling, after all.
While the oysters are steaming, melt the butter in a large sauté or frying pan, then stir in the mustard, sprinkle the thyme into the mix, and then add the breadcrumbs. I prefer panko breadcrumbs for their hefty, and therefore crunchy, texture. Stir the breadcrumbs into the melted butter mixture in order to coat all of the breadcrumbs with butter, which will take all of 30 seconds. Remove the breadcrumbs from the heat, season the breadcrumbs with salt and pepper, and return your focus to the oysters.
Place the oysters on their shells on a rimmed baking sheet (I used a 9 by 13-inch sheet). Spread 1/4 of the breadcrumb mixture over the top of each oyster. Place the sheet under the broiler, oysters aligned directly below the broiler (at my house, and I suspect at many a household, this means putting the pan in with the short end facing the back of the oven). Broil until the breadcrumbs are golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the oven, place on a plate with a handful of greens, and serve them forth with a wedge of lemon. And enjoy. These bad boys are good. So good, in fact, that I have been known to lick the shells. And I'm not ashamed to admit it. As you can now attest.
Copyright 2010, Amy McCoy/Poor Girl Gourmet. All Rights Reserved.
Photo credit: Copyright Amy McCoy. May not be reproduced without permission.