I know my palette is biased, but I tend to think that the art of cooking oysters was cultivated in south Louisiana. I honestly believe that some of the very best oyster recipes were originally concocted in local New Orleans restaurants.
You’ve heard of Oysters Rockefeller, right? That famous dish was first created in 1899 at the New Orleans restaurant Antoine’s. Ever had Charbroiled Oysters in NOLA? They’re legendary at the renowned Drago’s Seafood Restaurant. The baked P&J Oysters at Chef John Besh’s Luke Restaurant is a favorite dish. And, I’m pretty sure that Casamento’s Restaurant has the best Oyster Loaf sandwich around the New Orleans area (at least I know that my hubby, Luke, would agree to that).
I’m sure there are hundreds of original recipe creations at seafood restaurants with great oyster bars located not only in south Louisiana, but certainly along the Gulf Coast, as well as the Northeast and Pacific Northwest areas in America. I think some of the best, though, are those that also serve dishes with baked, broiled, fried, and any other way of cooking an oyster. I would, however, be remiss if I didn’t mention that some really appetizing oyster recipes have been invented in home kitchens and on backyard barbecue grills. This is a picture of my brother’s humongous custom-made bbq pit, where many a tasty dish has survived its flames (trust me, you’ll see what I mean by that shortly).
If you don’t already know it, I’m truly passionate about architectural design, the culinary arts, and coastal living. I wrote a previous post about different types of artwork inspired by an oyster shell, and I’d also shared a few sources for oyster shell-shaped cooking pieces that I’d come across. At the time, though, I didn’t include vintage oyster plates because I wanted to write a separate post about different ways that collections of those lovely antiques are displayed. I still plan to do that, and I started pinning to a new Pinterest board of impressive Oyster Plates. In the world of utilitarian decorative arts, Victorian-era oyster plates are considered by collectors to be among the most beautiful creations in the world. They were used as dedicated serving plates for shucked oysters. Have you ever seen the collection of oyster plates at Moss Antiques on Royal Street in the New Orleans French Quarter? Oh, my goodness, it is incredible. The elaborate and ornate designs are absolutely stunning. I would venture to say that none of those vintage plates in pristine condition would be used for serving oyster dishes in today, but their patterns are inventively inspiring. These are a few eye candy pieces that you might enjoy studying a bit, too.
I’m always on the look-out for unique and inspired serving and culinary pieces to share with you. As a professional designer, I also tend to look at the technical aspects, features and benefits, materials and specifications of products. I’ve been introduced recently to some wonderful new cookware inspired by our favorite little bivalve. Brothers Tommy and Adam Waller are the inventors of The Oyster Bed (c/o), funded by a Kickstarter campaign that quickly became Louisiana’s largest funded product to date. The Oyster Bed is innovative cookware with the intention to enable professional chefs and home cooks alike to cultivate creative cooking while simultaneously using their brand to educate their customers on the value of oysters to the world’s coastal ecosystems. After checking out their video on Kickstarter and visiting their website, I was more than happy to give them my positive feedback on their extraordinary invention. They were extremely kind to send us a sample kit of the products that they currently offer for us to try out. Here’s a sneak peek of the incredible samples.
The sample kit included a Le Grande (the Full Dozen plate) in a burlap sack, the Le Petite (the Half Dozen plate) also in a burlap sack, a Le Pallette (Reclaimed Wooden Trivet), The Oyster Bed Forks (set of four), along with the Wallers’ exclusive Recipe booklet (and, their recipes look awesome!). We put together a little presentation with an antique napkin and a vase of flowers for y’all to see the products collectively.
Let me tell you, Luke and I couldn’t start pulling out several cookbooks on our bookshelf fast enough to choose what we wanted to grill or bake first on these beautiful trays. One of my favorite recipes is “Grilled Oysters with Spicy Garlic Butter” in Chef John Besh’s My New Orleans cookbook. Another is “Sausage-Stuffed Bell Peppers” in Chef Emeril Lagasse’s Louisiana Real & Rustic cookbook (and, the “Gulf Shrimp Stuffed Mirliton” recipe in The Oyster Bed’s recipe booklet looks pretty tasty, too). We weren’t sure what recipe we’d end up using first. We did know for sure though, the main ingredient for anything we’d be grilling first would be freshly pre-shucked Authentic Louisiana oysters (we picked up this pint at a local Rouses’ Market).
Crazy as it sounds, we don’t have our own barbecue grill (I know, whaaatt??), but we intend on getting a new one soon. Anyway, we promptly made plans for a visit with my family in Houma, LA, where we could try out a chargrilled oyster recipe on The Oyster Bed, using my brother’s beastly barbecue pit as the initial test kitchen. A few weeks later, we brought the sample kit with us down to Houma and put The Oyster Bed to the test. We used a really simple recipe of pre-shucked oysters, butter, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and parsley flakes.
Then we placed The Oyster Bed onto the grill (and, my palms started to sweat). I don’t know why, but that bbq pit scares me! It is one big mammer-jammer. Sorry, I digressed. Anyway, back to grilling with The Oyster Bed.
Full disclosure here…my brother had some barbecue chicken cooking on the grill just before we placed The Oyster Bed tray over the hot coals. So, although he scraped the grill somewhat, there possibly might have been a few remaining drippings that caused these intense flames.
Some look like they were trying to kiss the oysters, just like at Drago’s!
After the flames calmed down, and the butter melted, some Parmesan cheese, and Louisiana Hot Sauce made it onto each oyster.
Needless to say, although The Oyster Bed successfully survived the intense grilling of my brother’s beastly bbq pit, the oysters themselves were practically inhaled out of the cooking wells. And, in case you were wondering, clean-up by hand washing was super easy! Sample test number one on the backyard grill was complete, and with excellent results. Following our visit, we brought the kit back home for round two of testing, this time with a baking recipe.
Since the Easter holidays are coming up soon, we thought we’d test out an old recipe out of our Louisiana Cookery cookbook, by Mary Land. We chose the simple baking recipe, “Oysters Diablo (Deviled Oysters)”, consisting of a little unsalted butter, a pint of oysters (drained and cut up fine), Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, crushed cracker crumbs, and a couple of chopped shallots. We modified the recipe slightly by adding juice of ½ lemon to the mixture. Again, we used freshly pre-shucked Authentic Louisiana oysters.
The recipe directions are really easy. Saute’ shallots in butter until limp. Add chopped oysters. Season with Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco to taste. Add the cracker crumbs, enough to hold the mixture together. However, in lieu of using ramekins, we spooned the mixture into each cooking well on The Oyster Bed, then baked it in the oven, pre-heated at 375 degrees, for 15 to 20 minutes.
We sprinkled some Parmesan cheese on top before serving. Don’t you agree that The Oyster Bed is a lovely serving tray, too?
After enjoying these tasty deviled oysters, cleaning up was easy the second time around, too. Our sample test number two of baking in the kitchen oven was complete. I’m definitely a true believer that this exceptional cookware will set a new standard for serving and cooking oysters, and many other dishes, in both restaurants and home kitchens. And remember that The Oyster Bed can be used for cooking all sorts of things, like vegetable dishes and desserts, too (did someone ask about brownies?). I might even try out something that needs to be chilled in the refrigerator and freezer. The culinary possibilities are endless!
Please go check out The Oyster Bed on their website for more information about their company purpose, as well as additional recipes and products. Make sure to watch their video. Feel free to join me in helping to spread the word about this wonderfully innovative cookware and its guaranteed efforts toward coastal restoration. And by all means, please consider using pre-shucked oysters, too.
Have you been thinking of any recipes you’d like to try cooking in The Oyster Bed? I have a good feeling that the Le Grande will be the go-to gift for Father’s Day and starts showing up on bridal registries for a preferred wedding gift, and the Le Petite will be the perfect gift for Graduation or Mother’s Day. What do you think? Do tell!
(c/o) The Oyster Bed gifted me with their culinary cookware for this post, however, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.