Baked Oysters with Thyme and Garlic
I’m really competitive in the kitchen. I didn’t know this about myself until Judy decided we should enter the Winter Warmer Dinner Competition, a photo challenge by AvecEric.com, the blog of Le Bernadin’s Eric Ripert.
The challenge: Make and photograph one of five items on Eric’s “winter warmer” menu. John, Judy and I are going to make the Coq au Vin tomorrow, so I decided I’d take a warm-up lap today with Baked Oysters with Fresh Thyme and Garlic. I had never made oysters before, but how hard could it be?
First clue: Fishmongers are closed on Sunday (duh), so I sucked up the cold and the subway and slogged over to Whole Foods. Oysters 1. Liz 0.
The recipe calls for shucked oysters, which is deceptive. How is one meant to shuck an oyster? I jabbed futilely at one with a kitchen knife, but couldn’t even find the opening. This did not bode well. Oysters 2. Liz 0.
A quick google search told me oyster shucking was pastime “better suited to brawny water men” with shucking knives and gloves. Great. Oysters 3. Liz 0.
Another site told me to slip the knife in between the top and bottom shell near the hinge on the back, and provided a diagram. The caption read, “The person in this picture is holding the oyster with her bare hands – WE DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS!” Very helpful. Which one is the top shell anyway? Oysters 4. Liz 0.
Finally, with my hand carefully covered, I managed to pry one loose. Victory! The tide was beginning to turn… until, in my shucking throes, I managed to break yet another champagne glass. Curses. Oysters 5. Liz 1.
At last, I triumphed over all six of the salty little suckers and popped them in the oven. The result, intended purely as an exercise of photography and willpower, was surprisingly delicious. They tasted of butter and shallots and sea, and I downed all six in a gulp.
Baked Oysters with Fresh Thyme and Garlic
4 cups kosher salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small shallot minced
2 dozen oysters, shucked
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 lemon, halved
Mix 2 cups of kosher salt with just enough water to make it the consistency of wet sand. Pour the remaining salt on a baking sheet.
Stir together the butter, garlic and shallots in a small mixing bowl. Place a teaspoon of garlic butter on each oyster and gently place the oysters on the salt to balance.
Place the oysters in the preheated oven and bake for about 5 minutes or until the butter is bubbling and lightly browned. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and a sprig of fresh thyme. Serve the oysters on a bed of wet salt.