By Rosie Hawthorne on December 12, 2022
To me, there’s no better way to eat an oyster than freshly shucked, with a squirt of lemon juice, and slurped down right off the half shell. Sometimes, however, one wants something a little more substantial, so I’m offering oysters on the half shell with an array of toppings that’s sure to please the palate.
Oysters Hawthorne are my go-to oysters whenever I want topped and broiled oysters on the half shell. I’m giving you the main ingredients, but you can pick and choose from an assortment here. I leave it up to you. My only admonition is to not overpower the oyster with your toppings. Go light on the toppings so the oyster shines through.
(For 2 dozen oysters.)
Note: Amounts can be adjusted to your taste.
In a medium skillet, melt the butter. Add in the onion and spinach and cook over medium heat for about a minute, until the spinach is barely wilted. Pour in the cream – just enough to pull it all together. Heat through and turn off heat. Season to taste with kosher salt and perhaps a grating of nutmeg.
Place some spinach mixture on each oyster.
Top with grated mozzarella and crushed Ritz crackers. (You could use breadcrumbs or some other cracker, like Saltines, but I like the buttery Ritz.) Place a small pat of butter on top.
Run under the broiler until the crumbs are slightly browned. Doesn’t take long. Say 450° for 6-8 minutes, but it depends on your oven. So, watch it! I like my oysters juicy and plump. Remember, you can’t undercook an oyster, but you can overcook one.
The above instructions are for my basic Oysters Hawthorne, but you can always improvise and perform variations on this fundamental theme. For example, you might want to add in some finely chopped bell pepper. I use red, orange, and yellow peppers just for the color. Sometimes, I like a splash of sherry or white wine in with the spinach. Crumbled cooked bacon for an extra topping is always a plus, or you could go with prosciutto, finely diced ham, or sausage. Grated Parmigiano Reggiano and panko breadcrumbs would complete this quite nicely. Other additions you might consider are chopped parsley and sliced scallions. Feel free to color outside the lines!
These next oysters, Oysters Paprika, are some of my favorites. Depending on the type of paprika you use, you can taste a nice subtle heat or a hint of smoke. The sugar on oysters may sound odd to you, but it’s the perfect complement to the spiciness.
(For 1 dozen oysters.)
Melt the butter and stir in the paprika, sugar, and cayenne.
Spoon over oysters. Grate cheese over top then sprinkle on breadcrumbs.
Run under a 450° broiler until cheese is melted and crumbs are golden brown.
Top each oyster with salsa, then crushed tortilla chips, and grated Monterey Jack cheese.
Run under a 450° broiler until top is browned.
About halfway into the broil, spoon some melted butter over each oyster.
My Fiesta Oysters are a slight variation on the Oysters Olé.
Top your oysters with crumbled salsa, lime zest and juice, chopped cilantro, crumbled cornbread, and melted butter. Broil until the cornbread is slightly browned.
I don’t know what to call these oysters, so I’m going with Huitres Je Ne Sais Quoi.
It’s a combination of flavors I put together and it worked. Even though I don’t care for licorice, I do like the similar flavor profile of star anise and fennel here.
Run under a 450° broiler 6-7 minutes, until lightly browned.
My last oysters are simple, tasty, festive, and perfect for the holiday season.
2 dozen oysters
Smear celery, pepper, parsley, and scallions into butter.
Add lemon juice, Lea & Perrins, and Texas Pete.
Top each oyster with butter mixture and sprinkle on bacon.
Under the broiler for 5 minutes, or until butter is melted and oysters heated through.
Enjoy and Merry Christmas!
For any culinary questions, feel free to e-mail me at RosieHawthorne@gmail.com. Bon appétit! For more Rosie’s Recipes on the Outer Banks Voice click here