Gar­lic but­ter with pars­ley brings spring to oys­ters

Grilling them on the half shell makes for a pretty pre­sen­ta­tion — and fail-safe cook­ing

The Hamilton Spectator - - FOOD - EL­IZ­A­BETH KARMEL

My grilled oys­ters with green gar­lic but­ter dish looks as green and springy as your back­yard at this time of year.

You may be fa­mil­iar with the flavours in this but­ter from the clas­sic French es­car­gots à la bour­guignonne. And, if I was a bet­ting wo­man, I’d be will­ing to bet that 90 per cent of folks who love snails love this dish be­cause of the rich green, gar­licky but­ter. That’s def­i­nitely my fas­ci­na­tion with it. But this but­ter isn’t just for es­car­gots — it makes amaz­ing grilled oys­ters and the ul­ti­mate gar­lic bread.

If you are buy­ing oys­ters from a fish store or the gro­cery store, you can feel free to eat them all year long as they are more than likely be­ing com­mer­cially raised and are safe. In fact, my favourite time of year to eat grilled oys­ters is spring and early sum­mer.

I like to grill them on the half shell, which makes for both a pretty pre­sen­ta­tion and fail-safe cook­ing. The tough shell pro­tects the del­i­cate oys­ters from the hot fire.

The oys­ter sim­mers in its own juices mixed with the cook­ing liq­uid from a mari­nade, sauce or com­pound but­ter. This is just the right tem­per­a­ture, and will not re­sult in over­cooked, rub­bery oys­ters un­less you leave them on the grill too long.

Grilled Oys­ters with Green Gar­lic But­ter MAKES 4 AP­PE­TIZER-SIZED POR­TIONS

1 dozen shucked oys­ters Green Gar­licky But­ter (see recipe be­low) Hot sauce for serv­ing Lemon wedges for serv­ing

Start to fin­ish: 15 min­utes Pre­pare a gas or char­coal grill for medium di­rect heat. Line a sheet pan with the bot­tom oys­ter shells from the shucked oys­ters. Top each oys­ter with a gen­er­ous spoon­ful of the oys­ter liquor (liq­uid that the oys­ters are packed in) and the green gar­lic but­ter.

Place oys­ters di­rectly on the cook­ing grates. Cover the grill and cook un­til but­ter is melted and liq­uid is bub­bling, about two to three min­utes. You can tell if the oys­ters are cooked if they are opaque and puffed up. The edges will also stand out slightly.

Trans­fer to a serv­ing plat­ter lined with kosher salt and serve im­me­di­ately with lemon wedges and favourite hot sauce, if de­sired.

Green Gar­lic But­ter (a.k.a. Es­car­got But­ter)

Grat­ing gar­lic with a mi­croplane pro­vides a gar­lic paste that is more eas­ily mixed into the but­ter.

1 stick un­salted but­ter, soft­ened at room tem­per­a­ture 2 ta­ble­spoons minced fresh pars­ley 3 cloves of gar­lic, peeled and grated 1 small shal­lot, grated ½ tea­spoon gran­u­lated or de­hy­drated gar­lic 2-4 tsp dry white wine, such as a French Bur­gundy or French-style Chardon­nay, de­pend­ing on taste ½ tsp sea salt (or more to taste)

Mash or stir but­ter un­til it is smooth and slightly fluffy. Add pars­ley, gar­lic, shal­lot and de­hy­drated gar­lic. Mix to­gether, mash­ing with the back of a fork to make sure all the in­gre­di­ents are in­cor­po­rated. Add wine and salt.

Mix un­til smooth and fully in­cor­po­rated. Taste for sea­son­ing. Add more salt if needed.

On a piece of parch­ment or plas­tic wrap, drop but­ter in spoon­fuls to form a log. Roll but­ter in plas­tic wrap and smooth out to form a round log about 1½ inches in di­am­e­ter. Re­frig­er­ate un­til firm and easy to cut. Can be made in ad­vance and stored tightly cov­ered in the re­frig­er­a­tor for up to a week and in the freezer for up to three months.

Chef’snote: When I make this for the grilled oys­ter recipe above, I drop gen­er­ous and equal spoon­fuls of the soft but­ter on a piece of parch­ment pa­per and place it in the freezer to har­den. This way, the but­ter is al­ready por­tioned out for each oys­ter. You can do this in ad­vance and place the in­di­vid­ual but­ter pat­ties in a re­seal­able plas­tic bag in the freezer for up to two weeks.

Per serv­ing: 284 calo­ries (183 from fat); 21 grams fat (12 g sat­u­rated; 1 g trans fats); 121 mil­ligrams choles­terol; 415 mg sodium; 9 g car­bo­hy­drate; 0 g fi­bre; 0 g sugar; 15 g pro­tein.

RICHARD DREW, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

This but­ter isn’t just for es­car­gots — it makes amaz­ing grilled oys­ters and the ul­ti­mate gar­lic bread.

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