Oysters are the perfect addition to the 2015 Super Bowl party menu, both as a nod to two seafood-centric coastal locales, New England and Seattle, and to our own Gulf oyster season still underway here in South Louisiana. For parties, I like to serve them baked or grilled on the half-shell, and for the Super Bowl in particular, adding bacon and barbecue sauce makes them festive and football-y. Pretty sure that’s a word this week.
One of my all-time favorite oyster recipes is Oysters Fitzpatrick from the Junior League of Baton Rouge’s 1959 food bible, River Road Recipes, but here I’ve reworked it with a locally made barbecue sauce, Jay D’s, made by my friend and fellow food writer/blogger Jay Ducote (BiteandBooze.com).
Oysters Fitzpatrick 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. I’ve taken this recipe on the road frequently — especially to the Florida Panhandle — because as long as you have the oyster shells, it’s a low-impact slam dunk…lots easier than other classic baked oyster recipes like Rockefeller and Bienville.
This time, though, I made a few changes. I replaced the ketchup with Jay D’s, developed by Jay over years of LSU tailgating and bottled in northeast Louisiana by the Panola Pepper Company. I really like this sauce’s mahogany color, savoriness and thick consistency, and for a Georgia girl who grew up on tangy, mustard-based sauces, I appreciate the fact that it’s not syrupy sweet. It works great in this recipe.
Not much left. YUM.
Another change I made was to cook the bacon separately. The single failing of the original Oysters Fitzpatrick 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 before serving. Also, I added slivered green onions for garnish, which deliver freshness and punch.
Years ago, I cleaned a bunch of oyster shells from a sack we grilled with our neighbors and I still use them for recipes like this! My special supplies box….
Oysters Fitzpatrick with Jay D’s Louisiana BBQ Sauce
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
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 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.
…the original recipe from River Road Recipes, one of the best selling community cookbooks of all time.
Louisiana oysters have been pricier than usual this year because of dip in supply; beds are continuing to bounce back after the Deepwater Horizon spill, and some areas are struggling more than others. Still, fresh, safe Gulf oysters are easy to find at regional seafood markets and are worth the splurge. (A 16 oz. container is running about $11.)