Cooking with Scotch Whisky – Smokey Oven-broiled Oysters
Louisiana is the epicenter of some of the best food in the world. Our rich waters and fertile lands yield bountiful resources for delectable creations.
One of my favorite Louisiana dishes is the Char-grilled Oysters at Drago’s in Metairie (a suburb of New Orleans). Loaded with butter, garlic and Parmesan cheese, these oysters are the epitome of Louisiana cuisine. Veteran cooks hand shuck and char-grill these salty gems in front of your eyes at the restaurant’s oyster bar. Lightly toasted French bread sits alongside to soak up all that buttery goodness left behind in the shell. Hungry yet?
I’ve often wondered what it would be like to add a bit of Islay single malt – to infuse some peaty, smokey flavors to compliment the brine of the oyster. Next time I go to Drago’s I’ll be sure to take a pipette and order a dram. But I’m impatient so this calls for an experiment.
About the Oysters
Most people don’t have access to fresh, in the shell, oysters. We have a few sources here Baton Rouge to buy live oysters. You need to understand how to take care of them so that they don’t spoil (because they are still live). It requires you shuck (open) them by leveraging a blade between the two shells. That can be a bit tricky and messy. For this recipe, I’ve used a pint of fresh, local, and shucked oysters from the seafood department at our grocery store.
If you want to go all out and use in-shell oysters, well, you have all the equipment you need. Simply cook the oyster on one of the shells, just as they do at the restaurant. With shucked oysters, I use small seafood tins that I sometimes use for crab meat au gratin. But you don’t even need those. Find a muffin pan! Each muffin well is the perfect resting spot for the oysters. Now, let’s get to the good part.
Here’s a loose recipe with lots of wiggle room for adding your special touch. You can also find the Drago’s recipe here.
Oysters – 1 pint fresh, shucked oysters (about 18-20 oysters)
There are so many spectacular Islay whiskies to choose from. It’s like cooking with wine, use something you like to drink. – I used Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength with its potent BBQ smokiness.
Mix together the following and spice to your level of taste:
- 1 stick of butter (softened)
- 2 to 4 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Optional – Shake or two of Italian seasoning
- Optional – 3 to 4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
Mix together the following::
- 1/2 cup Parmesan and/or Romano cheese (grated)
- 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 2 teaspoons chopped parsley
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F for at least 10 minutes. Get it good and hot!
- Place an oyster in broiling tins on a cookie sheet or in a muffin pan. Depending on the size of the oysters, you may put two per section.
- Drop a dollop of the Butter Mixture onto each one, then top that with the Cheese Mixture.
- And now for the Islay contribution…. Pour a dram of your favorite Islay single malt whisky. Using a straw, eye dropper, or pipette, draw out the whisky and add 4 or 5 drops per oyster. The cooking process will steam in a hint of smokey flavor while the alcohol will cook out.
- Place the oysters in the oven and cook at 450 degrees F for about 3 minutes. Then hit the broiler for a minute or two for a bubbling, golden brown finish. Overcooking will result in a rubbery consistency. So aim for high heat for a short time. Again, this depends on the size of the oysters.
Once they are ready, add some French bread and serve the oysters immediately! You can always add more whisky at this point. The oysters are swimming in garlicky yumminess! There’s just a note of smoke, nothing overpowering as it is already a delicate meat. The whisky adds another layer on the classic dish. Enjoy your dram while eating these gifts from the sea.
Bon Appetite and Slainte Y’all!