It is simply one of the great pleasures in life, enjoying the tradition of a southern oyster roast. I am a California girl raised in the desert, so the mysteries of fresh oysters or anything to do with them remained well, mysterious until my venture into the great wide world of being a Chef.
Since my squeamish first bite, I like to think I have really embraced oyster culture. I have eaten them raw, fried, grilled, braised, and stewed. I have explored Highway 1 on the California coast, and in one trip eaten at all three Hog Island Oyster locations. I have eaten the hard to find, super briney, Pemaquids from Maine and large, European “pied de cheval” (horse hoof) in Cancale, France.
But given a choice between white table cloth and fine china or wooden table and open fire pit… I choose the latter. In the lowcountry they have perfected the art of the oyster roast. It’s a social gathering where you get your hands dirty, share a few drinks, and knock back a few dozen oysters.
It’s not hard to pull off at home as long as you can get your hands on fresh oysters, which thanks to the internet, is only a click away. If you are lucky enough to be here on the Georgia coast, check out White House Seafood. They are located in Woodbine, Georgia and harvest oysters from right here on Cumberland Island. If your home is nowhere near the salt marshes of Georgia, check out two of my favorite wholesale oyster companies here on the east coast.
Island Creek Oysters http://www.islandcreekoysters.com/
Rappahannock River Oysters https://www.rroysters.com/
So here are the basics to pull of your home spun version of a low country oyster roast. It is easier than you think.
- 1 Wood or Charcoal Grill (you can use gas, but where’s the fun in that)
- 1 Bushel of Oysters (1 bushel=100)
- Oyster Knives (one for each person you invite)
- Cloth Towels
- Saltine Crackers
- Lemons/ Horseradish/ Cocktail/ Melted Butter/Hot Sauce (the options are endless!)
Simply light up your grill. Get a nice hot fire, no waiting around for coals. Work in batches. The size of your grill will dictate how many you can put down at one time. You want to put the oysters on the grill in an even, single layer over the hottest part of the grill. After about 3 or 4 minuets they will begin to slightly pop open and that your cue. Simply use tongs or a small shovel and put the hot oysters in a bucket and place on a table for your guests. If you like your oysters well done, just leave them on the grill for an extra minuet after they pop open. I highly recommend eating outside, shucking oysters can get messy. Even the most experienced of us drop on oyster on the ground on occasion.