Oysters are the perfect addition to the Super Bowl party menu this weekend, both as a nod to two seafood-centric coastal teams, New England and Seattle, and to our own Gulf oyster season still underway.
Louisiana oysters have been pricier than usual this year because of the dip in supply; beds are continuing to bounce back after the Deepwater Horizon spill. But fresh oysters are easy to find at regional seafood markets and are worth the splurge. A 16 oz. container is running about $11. For parties, I like to serve them baked or grilled on the half-shell. For the Super Bowl in particular, adding bacon and barbecue sauce makes them festive football fare.
One of my favorite oyster recipes is Oysters Fitzpatrick, a straightforward formula found in the Junior League of Baton Rouge’s 1959 classic, River Road Recipes. It involves rubbing fresh garlic on a cleaned, dry oyster shell, dousing it with a few shakes of hot sauce and adding a fresh oyster (or two).
Topped with bacon and ketchup, the oysters are then baked in the oven until they curl. Sweet, salty and spicy, the ingredients enhance the oysters without masking their delicate flavor.
This time, though, I made a few changes. I replaced the ketchup with good quality, local barbecue sauce. There are a few in Louisiana, but I used Jay D’s Louisiana Barbecue Sauce because I like its dark color, savoriness and thick consistency.
I also cooked the bacon separately. The single failing of the original Oysters Fitzpatrick recipe is that the bacon fails to crisp under the prescribed cook time, but the problem is solved if you cook it in a skillet and crumble it on top after the fact. I also added slivered green onions for garnish, which deliver freshness and punch.
Oysters Fitzpatrick with BBQ Sauce Makes 24
2 dozen oyster shells, cleaned and dried
2 dozen fresh oysters (2-3 16 oz. containers)
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced in half across the middle
8 strips bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces
Barbecue sauce (I used Jay D’s)
Slivered green onions (green parts) for garnish
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place oyster shells on a large baking sheet. Rub the inside of each shell with garlic. Shake a few drops of hot sauce in each shell and add an oyster on top. Drizzle a small puddle of barbecue sauce on top of each oyster and bake for 15 minutes. While the oysters are cooking, fry bacon in a skillet until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Remove oysters when done, top with bacon pieces and onions. Arrange on a tray of rock salt and serve immediately with cocktail forks.