"'Twas a brave man, who first ate an oyster."
I'm really enjoying Flying Fish Brewery's NJ Turnpike Exit Series of beers. It's so quintessentially New Jerseyan to celebrate one of our state's greatest eyesores and hellholes, and they're doing it with excellent brews. I reviewed their excellent Exit 11 a while back, which was an American Wheat Ale. Their Exit 1 is a classic Oyster Stout, made with oysters and shells! This was a popular type of stout in England public houses when a pint of stout might be the most vitamins a man would have all day. Now, it's just a smooth and tasty malty stout that goes great with a dozen on the half shell. The Exit beers only come in 750ml wine bottles, so share with a friend!
I was alone since Firecracker headed home for Christmas, so why not drink away my sorrows? I got these at Whole Foods, along with an Oxo shucking knife. Cost $20. But the experience of shucking oysters for the first time was worth the money. Scrub the oysters well, and discard any that aren't tightly closed.
I opted for Drago's Char-broiled Oysters recipe. I like them raw, but I missed these from Louisiana, so what better to eat when I missed by Baton Rouge baby? You'll need melted butter, fresh parsley, lemon juice, minced garlic, Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning, lots of grated Parmesan, and a little Tabasco. Mix it all up!
Shucking an oyster is easy if you're patient and confident. Clamp the oyster flat side up in a dish towel, with the pointy end sticking out. Press the point of the knife into the hinge and wiggle it until you get in there and can twist it open. Slide the knife down into the valley of the shell to separate the meat, then do the same to the top. When the knife goes into the hinge you should feel it try to close; it's alive, after all. Quickly separate the meat to put the poor oyster out of its misery, you heartless hungry bastard!
Cover each one with the cheese and butter and parsley mixture and broil them until the cheese bubbles and the edges begin to brown. I went a little lighter because I didn't use enough cheese- a cardinal sin- and I wanted the meat to remain juicy. There's also a salmon patty in the corner. I didn't have any bread in the house, but I'll be warming a nice crusty loaf in the oven to soak up the juices, when I do this again. I also used a bit much parsley, but I like it so that's fine. Next time, I'll mince it finely.
I like how it turned out- less like Oysters Rockefeller and more like Felix and Acme's char-broiled oysters. The sweet shellfish really only need a little seasoning. But, on to the beer! The chocolatey smooth stout went very well with them. Because cooking oysters gives them a mild fishy flavor, the strong stout went well with them. I think it might drown out the delicate flavors of raw oysters, but I'll buy another bottle and try that next. Because now the Plucker is a mother shucker, and I'll be eating them at home more often. The stout's a winner- it's not too heavy like the Samuel Adams Imperial Stout that's sat in my fridge for months- that's tasty but too heavy to drink! I'm gonna make stew and chili with it. Flying Fish is quick becoming my favorite New Jersey brewer, because their varieties are readily available and quite good. And their Exit series has been fantastic!
"O Oysters," said the Carpenter,
"You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?'
But answer came there none--
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one.--Lewis Carroll, "The Walrus and the Carpenter"