By Barton Seaver
September 10, 2019
The creative culinary potential of oysters is well lauded in the history of American cuisine. Chefs have long used them to showcase not only the raw elemental flavors of their provenance but also as a canvas on which to combine artful pairings.
While the cuisine of oysters is celebrated along all coasts, it is nowhere better on display than in America’s greatest oyster city: New Orleans. From decadent classics to elegant modern preparations, the city boasts a parade of dishes as colorful and unique as her people. Here are four classics that have become icons:
1 Drago’s Charbroiled Oysters
From one of New Orleans’ legendary seafood establishments comes this decadence, even by New Orleans standards. Half-shell oysters are placed on a raging grill and doused with a generous amount of seasoned and melted butter, the fat causing the flames to jump, infusing a perfectly bitter char to the now-bubbling oysters.
Finished with grated Parmesan and pecorino and drizzled with even more butter, they are then served molten hot with a not-too-crusty loaf of bread, plenty of napkins and a recommended ice cold Abita beer.
2 Antoine’s Oysters Rockefeller
Developed at Antoine’s restaurant in the early 1900s, this dish was named as such because it is as rich as Rockefeller. The recipe is often replicated but never duplicated, as it remains a family secret to this day.
Typically a mixture of béchamel, spinach, herbs and cheese, there is no end to the creative potential of this original inspiration.
3 Cochon’s Wood-fired Oysters
Less opulent than some recipes but still rich, Cochon’s Wood-fired Oysters with chile-garlic butter are perfectly smoky from the oven and punctuated with a slight bite of chile and fresh garlic.
4 GW Fins’ Sizzling Oysters
This dazzling-yet-simple creation is a seasonal favorite. Shucked oysters are lightly smoked prior to preparing the final dish. The shells are heated in a hot oven, then the smoked oysters are bathed in butter and placed into the piping hot shells.
The oysters sizzle as they cook in the heated shells while being brought to the table, arriving in a pageant for all the senses, with extra butter and bread for dipping.