Thursday, June 27, 2013

Grilled Oysters on the Half Shell with Grilled Proscuitto & Mignonette, Plus a Live Fire Cookbook Giveaway!



I'd never tried an oyster until I started seeing Jeremy. His family was big on seafood growing up, and while mine was too, we definitely had more Greek-style seafood (a lot of fish and octopus) than anything else. Meanwhile, Jeremy grew up in the San Francisco bay area where there were shellfish galore; so oysters, mussels, and clams were good friends to his family. The first time he had me try an oyster was my junior year of college down at the Hermosa beach pier. The men shucked a rocky coin for each of us, waved some fresh lemon juice over its insides with rough hands, and flicked in a tad of hot sauce. The half shell was then handed over to us very carefully, much more so than the hectic dash of its preparation. This being my first time having a raw oyster, I was a bit put off by the appearance, but in went and down it came, all the while with eyes squeezed tightly shut. I remember thinking that the texture was very smooth...and the flavor was remarkable. Creamy, rich, and savory, it tasted of the sea in the best way possible. Unlike anything I had eaten before. So, when I was approached to post a recipe from Michael Chiarello's new cookbook, Live Fire, that's all about cooking outdoors over an open flame, I immediately knew the recipe I was going to make as soon as I read the words "Oysters" and "Grilled".


I'd never prepared oysters myself before this post, and grilling them sounded both approachable and delicious (I'm a tad obsessed with smokey flavors). Per the suggestion in the cookbook, I used blue point oysters for this recipe, (the Whole Foods near my house gets them fresh daily, and if you don't have a specialty seafood market in your town, Whole Foods is a great chain option for quality seafood). I placed the whole oysters on the grill and about 3/4 of them popped open about 1/4 inch after 4 minutes of grilling, but the rest stayed shut. I know they say not to eat oysters that don't open, but darn it I was hungry and at least wanted to look inside to see if they were okay or not. As it turned out, all the oysters that did not open had an oyster crab inhabiting the shell along with the oyster bit. Yes, I did scream when I opened the first one and saw the weird pink little crab, but after some googling I learned that they were considered a "delicacy", so I picked them out and placed them atop the half shells, too.


Jeremy ended up being out of town for work when I made these, and although it took me a bit longer to get the fire lit on my own, I was secretly glad he was gone because it meant I got to eat all the oysters myself. And they were delicious. Chiarello calls for a slab of proscuitto to be seared on the grill before being cut up into small chunks to be served atop the grilled oysters. He also has a little citrus, parsley, red onion, and olive oil sauce called a mignonette that you refrigerate to thicken and then drizzle atop each piping hot oyster before serving, which adds a wonderfully bright and cool contrasting element to the creamy toasty oysters. Now, the recipes in this cookbook all sound amazing (grilled poundcake!!), but what I loved most about it was learning about the various outdoor cooking techniques, like cooking over a hearth or fire pit, and using a hot box, rotisserie, or spit jack.


Chiarello also goes over the tools you can utilize in detail, like iron crosses (a giant iron cross that you can attach whole animals to, like lamb, and lean near an open flame) or a plancha (a thick slab of metal meant to sit on an open flame that creates an amazing crust on everything that's cooked atop it). He also goes over recommended wood, food, and wine pairings, which I found absolutely fascinating (who knew that the smoke from a cherry tree goes wonderfully with lamb and a Pinot Noir?) And even more importantly, he outlines what woods not to use for the fire and why (willow, for example, contains too much water to create the desired flame). But my favorite portion of the book is the chapter dedicated to cooking over dying coals and embers. I'd never thought of utilizing these flickering heat sources as a slow-cooking method, but the recipe for baba ghanoush made from ember-roasted eggplants made me see dying coals in a whole new light. You can even roast garlic cloves nestled directly in them!! And the generous folks over at Chronicle Books have offered to give away a copy of Live Fire to one of you as well, so you can enjoy the summer outdoors even while preparing dinner. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget below. The giveaway closes on July 11th at midnight PST. Good luck everyone!



a Rafflecopter giveaway


Note: This post was sponsored by Chronicle books and they provided me with a copy of Live Fire, however all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.


Ingredients:

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh flat leaf parsley
3 tablespoons red onions, very finely diced
4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or 1/2 teaspoon Calabrian chile paste
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
24 oysters in their shells
(1) 2-ounce chunk of proscuitto (You do not want to get it sliced, you want it in one big piece. You can purchase it this way at an Italian deli or a Whole Foods.)
1/2 tablespoon whole peppercorns, for garnish

First, tend to your oysters. Place them in a large bowl filled with cold water and use a brush to scrub off any loose particles on the outside of the shell. Rinse them well and discard the water they were submerged in. Place them on a platter in the refrigerator with the deep-cup side of the shell facing down and cover with a cool damp towel.


Now you can make the mignonette. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the parsley and olive oil (doing so keeps the fresh herbs from browning as quickly). Then whisk in the onion, lemon juice and zest, chile, salt, and pepper. Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.

Ignite a charcoal grill or turn a gas grill to high heat. When the grill is hot, scrape off your grill rack to ensure it is clean. Then, if you are using a gas grill, decrease the heat to medium high. Wipe down your grill rack with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking.

Lay the chunk of proscuitto on the grill and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until there are visible grill marks. Remove it from the grill and allow it to cool while you prepare the oysters.

Make sure your gas grill is hot or that your coals are glowing bright red. Wipe down the oysters with a towel and place them on the grill rack. When all 25 oysters are on the grill, close the grill lid and allow to cook until you hear the oysters popping open, about 3-4 minutes.


Remove the oysters from the grill with a pair of tongs and snap off the top shell, taking care to keep the juice in the bottom shell from splashing out. Use an oyster knife to gently release the oyster from the bottom of the shell, still taking care not to spill any liquid. Set the oysters aside.

Cut the proscuitto into strips about 1/4 inch thick and 3/4 inch long. Fill a few serving dishes with crushed ice and sprinkle the peppercorns over it for a garnish. Carefully transfer the oysters, still resting in their half shells, onto the bed of ice and top each one with a few slices of grilled proscuitto. Spoon the mignonette over each half shell, and keep the remaining mignonette in a bowl to be passed around for extra drizzling. Serve immediately.




51 comments:

  1. Great giveaway!

    Fave cookie (this week) is...this one
    http://www.averiecooks.com/2013/06/softbatch-cream-cheese-chocolate-chip-cookies.html

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    1. Whaaaaa? Cream cheese chocolate chip??? That just made the hungry part of my brain explode. I NEED to make those.

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  2. I love flourless peanut butter cookies.

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  3. The most wonderful cookies I have ever tasted were from a recipe at tasteofhome.com. They are rosemary honey cookies. The flavors continue to develop for several days after they are made.

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    1. Oh my, that sounds amazing!! I love rosemary shortbread cookies, adding honey to the mix must be amazing. I'll have to try making those for a honey-tasting event I am hosting, they sound like they'd be perfect.

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  4. I love oysters! My favorite cookie this week is this one...
    http://www.bhg.com/recipe/cookies/peanut-butter-chocolate-cookies/

    i am going to make some this weekend :)

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    1. Mmmmm peanut butter and chocolate. Such a delicious pair!

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  5. Way to rock that grill on your own, girl! It's been years since I ran the grill. Why does it have to be such a guy thing? This is a beautiful recipe. I used to love Michael Chiarello's show on the Food Network...is it still running? I don't have cable, so I have no clue. Anyway, he is awesome. This book sounds awesome.

    I've only ever had oysters raw and in my family's oyster stew. I couldn't eat the stew until I was like 17 (it was oysters in a milk and butter broth...GROSS!), and then, unfortunately, my grandmother became too frail to make it. The town where Kevin works is well known for it's oysters, so we splurge every now and again on some raw ones. They truly do taste of the sea. I'd love to try grilling them!

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    1. Yeah the book is honestly prettttttty badass. I'd never think I would use that word to describe a cookbook, but once you open this one up you'll see what I mean. There's fire all over it, and the design and layout is rugged but so, so beautiful. Made me want to cook more shellfish on the grill after how awesome these came out. And wow, milk and butter broth? That sounds suuuuuper rich. I love clam chowder, but I just can't do the ones that are basically pure cream, I want to taste some of the shellfish and not just dairy, ya know? I'm so happy this made me discover the fresh ones they have at my Whole Foods, I got them on sale for $1 each so I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for the next time they're on special :)

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  6. Sounds delicious and the cookbook looks fabulous.

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  7. Would love this book! I used to watch Michael Chiarello's show when I was younger and it definitely got me into cooking.

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    1. Me too! He is just amazing, he comes up with the most creative flavor combinations. Such a talented guy.

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  8. Your blog's pictures are beautiful and I love following it!

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  9. Leslie:
    Thank you for doing this giveaway. I would love to win.
    leslieannstevenson@yahoo.com

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  10. Oh man, oysters are one of those things I still have not brought myself to try, but if anyone/anything is going to convince me, it's you and this post. (I love mussels, but I think a good part of that stems from getting to eat half a loaf of bread that's been soaked in herby butter wine sauce.) I fear the oyster texture, but you make them sound so tasty and not gross at all. And I'm a sucker for anything grilled and then topped with prosciutto (that's also grilled!). OK, I need to try them...I will try them. (Also, how crazy is that about the oyster crabs?! So cool! I love sea life.)

    And omfg, ember-roasted eggplant for baba ghanoush. WHAT. Genius!!

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    1. I know, right??? I am DEFINITELY making that baba ghanoush the next time I start some coals for the ol' grill. And you should definitely try them! The texture is different than most other foods, but similar to clams, just bigger. If you have it raw for the first time it can be a bit overwhelming, so grilling them is a good way to give them a try. Plus with all the tasty dressings in the recipe they have a lot of good flavor to help support their tastiness :)

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  11. I don't think I've ever had an oyster. The smokey flavor with the taste of prosciutto must be very decadent! The mignonette sounds like a perfect accompaniment too. Would love to try more of these recipes!
    ~Colleen P

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    1. They really were, the flavors all went so well together!

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  12. I have had a lot of oysters in my life but never an oyster crab! So crazy! You can bet I am heading to whole Foods sometime this weekend with this recipe in hand to investigate :)

    It looks delish!

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    1. Thanks Jane! I was pretty shocked to find the little guys, especially so many of them! It made me wonder if the area where they harvested these oysters was experiencing an oyster crab infestation of some kind haha

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  13. Oysters are my absolute favorite and we just scored a giant whole ham of prosciutto - I know exactly where we are using it next! Off to the fish market!

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    1. Ohhhh yes! When you grill the chunk of proscuitto and put it on top of the oyster is tastes SO good, you will love it!

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  14. I would love to win this cookbook - icywit @ gmail dot com

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  15. Those oysters look amazing! I can't wait to try these!

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  16. Eva,
    I love that you did this all on your own. It really sounds like an adventure! And I love hearing about the surprise of the tiny crab inside. I don't have a ton of experience with shucking oysters myself, but one time I was I was surprised to find baby oysters that were growing on the shells of the big oysters. I could actually shuck them open too. No matter the weirdness, I absolutely love eating oysters!

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    1. Oh my gosh, that is too funny! And kind of adorable, it's like the babies were hitching onto mommy to come along for the ride! It's so much fun when you get seafood that's so fresh it actually has little surprises of nature along with it. I hard an easier time getting them open because I think the heat from the grill loosened them a bit, even though they didn't actually "open" open. I don't know if I could've pried those guys open when they're cold, though. That's some tough work!

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    1. Awwww don't be scared Grace! They are quite delicious, especially when paired with a nice accompanying flavor (like grilled proscuitto!)

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  18. I never knew that about oyster crabs! Did you taste one? How was it?

    I only had oysters once and I think they were just plain, anyway they didn't wow me, but cooked this way I imagine they would be delicious.

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    1. I did! I ate all of them, but I placed them on top of the oyster (you can see one in the very top photo on the center oyster, it is the little pink spot on the left part of the oyster) so I couldn't taste them individually. They were so small that I really just tasted the oyster and not any crab :)

      I definitely recommend trying oysters this way, you get the smokey flavor from the grill in the oyster and in the proscuitto, and the mignonette adds such a nice fresh crispness, you'll love it!

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  19. These look great! I never really enjoyed cooked oysters until traveling to New Orleans. The charred oysters down there turned it all around!

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    1. Oh man, charred oysters sound AWESOME. I have always wanted to go to New Orleans because of the food, I have heard sooooo many good thigns about the seafood down there, especially shellfish which is my favorite. Maybe I will finally make thew trek over there this year :)

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  20. I love oysters! Those look amazing!

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  21. I'm so impressed this was your first time making oysters! I have definitely never grilled them! But I do love me some Michael Chiarello :)

    Sues

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  22. HI

    Your blog photos look amazing ! Very beautifully shot and cropped. Makes me want to run out and get some oysters.

    My favorite cookie this week would be the Coconut chocolate chip = )

    Thank you for the giveaway

    Blessings
    Christine Teo
    cteo23@gmail.com

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  23. Ah this looks so good! And that cookbook looks amazing!

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  24. Am I glad or what to find your blog. Amazed at your food photography and a follower now. My husband loves oysters and this would be a treat.
    Ash

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  25. I am still not sure about oyster. I love shell fish and a total seafood lover but oyster somehow scares me and I have no idea why! Your photos and presentation always tempts me.

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  26. We got to have some oysters soon!
    Amazing photography as Asha points out above.

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  27. I can't have oysters due to a shellfish allergy but Michael Chiarello is amazing. Thanks for the chance

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  28. I adore Michael, and have also never tried oysters before. I should get on it!

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  29. wow ... you make me want oysters :) Beautiful

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  30. I love his cooking style. I really would enjoy this book.
    Michelle Tucker

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  31. Sounds like a great cookbook!

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