|Oysters on the Grill
Okay I might have fibbed when I said previously that I'd offer tips on getting your oysters to pop. After doing quite a bit of research, years of practical experience, and asking some very knowledgeable people... there doesn't seem to be a "trick" or rhyme or reason why some oysters cooked on the grill very nicely pop open for you and others remain stubbornly closed. (But whatever you do, for goodness sake don't throw away the ones that stay shut.. .they just need a little "help"!!) Here's the system, as I know it, and if you've developed your own never-fail technique I'd love to hear about it!
1. Make sure your oysters are reasonably clean. You surely don't need to scrub each one with a wire brush as I've seen recommended, but you might take a quick look at your stash and if you see actual mud clumps, dump your oysters on a clean spot in the lawn and hose them off a bit before you get started.
2. Get your grill hot. But not too hot. I know we're all rushing for that first delicious bite, but I've found oysters open for you a bit better if they're cooked indirectly and just a wee bit slower than you might prefer.
3. Place your oysters appropriately. You don't want to lose the juice that's steaming them inside their shell, so turn your oyster so that the lip is up.
4. Have a glass of wine. Or a beer. Or, if you must, a lemonade. Let your oysters cook about 5ish minutes on somewhat indirect heat. And if you can, put the lid on your grill. We're going for a "roasting" of sorts. You can pretty much figure that at least one will give you a gauge of how things are moving along and pop open for you. Once that happens, we take our tongs and move that oyster to more of a "warming" (less of a "cooking") area on the grill and let it cool a bit. This is the time to eyeball the surrounding oysters and evaluate if they need to be moved as well. If they haven't opened, we usually give them another minute or two (and a tap with the tongs) to comply, but after that, they're moved and pried open once they're cooled a bit.
5. Reduce your shells. Once your oyster has cooled enough to handle (and who hasn't burned their fingers on a hot oyster shell at least once??) pry off that top shell and loosen the oyster from the hinge muscle if needed. We have a little kitchen knife we use to slice it off the top shell and place it gently back into the bottom half, but you can use your (hopefully unburnt) fingers to do this too.
6. Enjoy! We have several ways to eat oysters off the grill, but of course there's always the "just go for it" methodology of simply enjoying the oyster as it is. Another of our favorite ways to do it is just a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese on the top that's allowed to melt a bit, but you can get fancy with a dab of pesto (hello hot sauce!) or other concoction if you'd like. We usually apply our topping, then move the oyster back into a warmer spot for the topping to get bubbly hot and melt into oyster before once again cooling enough to safely consume.
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