Rosie’s Recipes: Whole Lotta Shuckin’ Goin’ On

By on December 12, 2022

(Photos by Rosie Hawthorne)

By Rosie Hawthorne | Outer Banks Voice

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.

Oysters Hawthorne:

(Photos by Rosie Hawthorne)

(For 2 dozen oysters.)

  • 2 TB unsalted butter
  • 2 TB finely chopped onion
  • 4 cups spinach, chopped
  • splash of cream
  • hint of nutmeg (optional)
  • grated mozzarella cheese
  • Ritz crackers, crushed
  • more butter

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.

(Photos by Rosie Hawthorne)

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.


Oysters Paprika

(Photos by Rosie Hawthorne)

(For 1 dozen oysters.)

  • 4 TB butter
  • 1 ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ – 1 tsp cayenne (Optional.  If you want a bit of bite, go ahead.)
  • Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
  • panko breadcrumbs

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.



Oysters Olé

(Photos by Rosie Hawthorne)

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.





Fiesta Oysters

(Photos by Rosie Hawthorne)

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.





Huitres Je Ne Sais Quoi

I don’t know what to call these oysters, so I’m going with Huitres Je Ne Sais Quoi.

(Photos by Rosie Hawthorne)

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.

  • Melt ½ stick of butter with one star anise in it over very low heat for about 5 minutes to infuse the butter with the anise flavor.  Spoon the flavored butter over your oysters then add a pinch of each topping:
  • Minced fennel
  • Minced celery
  • Thinly sliced scallions
  • Minced apple in lime juice with a pinch of sugar
  • (I used red Gala apples with the peel on for color.  Mince the apple and place the pieces in juice of one lime mixed with 1 teaspoon sugar.)
  • Chopped parsley
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • Grated Melkbus cheese  (Melkbus is a Gouda cheese that’s creamy, buttery and nutty, and has black truffle bits in it.  I found it at Trio Restaurant and Market in Kitty Hawk.)
  • Crumbled Ritz crackers or panko

Run under a 450° broiler 6-7 minutes, until lightly browned.


My last oysters are simple, tasty, festive, and perfect for the holiday season.

Oysters Casino

(Photos by Rosie Hawthorne)

2 dozen oysters

  • 4 pieces bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 2 TB minced celery
  • 1 TB minced red and green pepper
  • 2 TB sliced scallions
  • 3 TB chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
  • a few shakes of Texas Pete
  • 4 TB butter, softened

Smear celery, pepper, parsley, and scallions into butter.

Add lemon juice, Lea & Perrins, and Texas Pete.
Mix well.

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!


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For any culinary questions, feel free to e-mail me at Bon appétit! For more Rosie’s Recipes on the Outer Banks Voice click here

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