By John F. Carafoli
Photography by Francine Zaslow

Oysters are plentiful this time of year thanks to the oyster farmers at Chatham Shellfish Company. Located at Barn Hill Landing, it is the only oyster farm in Chatham where you can get your fill of sweet and briny oysters.

Try oysters on the half shell with one or all three sauces for a tasting. Serve Oysters Rockefeller as a main course with a beautiful green salad for a lunch, or nourish your soul with the rich and decadent classic, Chatham Bars Inn Oyster Stew on a cold fall day. Cheers to classic and delicious dishes to be shared with friends and family this holiday season!

Insider tip: For recipes calling for salt and pepper, use Cape Cod sea salt from 1830 Sea Salt Co. at 108 Meetinghouse Road in Chatham. Visit the plant, take a tour and buy some of the beautiful white salt—plain or infused with herbs like lemon pepper seafood blend.

OYSTERS ROCKEFELLER

The original recipe was created in 1889 at the New Orleans restaurant Antoine’s. It has many variations and interpretations. Here is one that calls for simple ingredients. It’s both delicious and easy to put together.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 dozen shucked oysters on the half shell
  • 1 pound fresh spinach, blanched and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced shallots
  • 1 stick butter
  • ½ cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 to 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • Several drops Tabasco sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Pernod
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  1. Sauté shallots in 1 tablespoon of butter until they are translucent and start to brown slightly. Melt remaining butter and set aside.
  1. In a bowl, mix together shallots, spinach, bread crumbs, cheese, Worcestershire, Tabasco, Pernod and melted butter. Salt and pepper to taste.
  1. Top each oyster with a spoonful or more of spinach mixture, and place on a cookie sheet. (To hold the oysters upright when baking, place them on crumpled aluminum foil.)
  1. Bake 7 to 10 minutes until slightly brown.

Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer

NEW ENGLAND OYSTER STEW

This recipe was developed by Jacqueline Murphy, a chef and cooking instructor at Chatham Bars Inn.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 dozen fresh oysters, shucked, reserving liquid
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • ¼ cup diced celery
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups light cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon celery salt
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 small bunch of chives, thinly sliced, for garnish
  • Oyster crackers, for serving

 

Directions: 

  1. In a small to medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add onions, celery and shallots, cooking over medium-low heat until translucent. Mix in the flour to create a blond roux.
  1. Add the cream and oyster liquid, and bring to a gentle simmer for a few minutes. Add the oysters and cook a few minutes more until the edges start to ruffle.
  1. Season with the spices and salt and pepper to taste.
  1. Remove from heat and ladle into individual warm bowls. Garnish with chives; serve immediately with oyster crackers.

Serves 2 

OYSTERS ON THE HALF SHELL

 

Since oysters should be chilled, it’s best to serve them on a bed of crushed ice. Here are three recipes for sauces—all slightly different, but all equally delicious!

Directions:
For each recipe, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and let rest for at least 30 minutes to an hour in the refrigerator for flavors to meld. Serve chilled with a small spoon for serving. 

Mignonette Sauce

This is the most classic sauce for oysters on the half shell. Usually it is made with white pepper, but I changed it to black pepper for a variation.  

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup finely chopped shallots (about 2½ ounces)
    * ¼ cup champagne vinegar
    * 1/8 teaspoon sugar
    * 1/8 teaspoon salt
    * 1¼ teaspoons crushed black pepper (Tip: Rather than using ground pepper, crush peppercorns with the back of a large knife.)
Bloody Mary Sauce

A bright and colorful sauce with a little kick, the recipe uses some of the ingredients from the traditional drink. 

Ingredients:        

  • ¼ cup tomato juice
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish
  • ½ teaspoon freshly minced dill
  • Dash or two of Tabasco sauce
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • A few shakes of celery salt

Asian Sauce

For a sweet and sour sauce, this recipe brings the two flavors together.  

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon peeled and finely grated ginger
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives or scallions         

Directions:

For each recipe, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and let rest for at least 30 minutes to an hour in the refrigerator for flavors to meld. Serve chilled with a small spoon for serving.

For more information on Chatham Shellfish Company and instructions on how to order oysters, visit chathamoysters.com. The website also features the perfect gift packages for the oyster lover in your life! Follow Chatham Shellfish Company on Instagram @chathamshellfishco

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