This summery appetizer elevates briny oysters with a compound butter that pulls in garlicky ramps, tangy preserved lemon and spicy chiles. Look for preserved lemon and Calabrian chiles at specialty food stores. If you don’t want to shuck your own oysters, many fishmongers will do it for you and pack them on crushed ice; just be sure to cook and eat them as soon as you get home.
Chef Tom Colicchio—of New York restaurants Craft, Riverpark and Temple Court, all winners of Wine Spectator's Best of Award of Excellence for their wine lists—serves this dish when entertaining at home, grilling the shellfish in his custom-built indoor fire pit. (See "Wine & Design: A Home Grows in Brooklyn" for images of his historic home renovation.) He typically pairs the oysters with an easygoing white wine from nearby Long Island, such as Lieb Cellars’ Pinot Blanc North Fork of Long Island Reserve 2016.
Recipe courtesy of chef Tom Colicchio.
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon roughly chopped ramps (or scallions, plus 1 teaspoon minced garlic)
- 1 tablespoon roughly chopped preserved lemon
- 1 tablespoon roughly chopped Calabrian chiles
- 1 dozen raw oysters in their shells
- Roughly chopped chervil, for finishing
1. In a medium bowl, add the butter. Add the ramps, preserved lemon and chiles, and mash together until well-incorporated. Set aside.
2. Vigorously scrub the oysters under cold running water to remove any dirt or debris. Prepare a bowl of ice water and submerge the clean oysters. One at a time, place an oyster on your work surface, cupped-side down. Dry the oyster and, using a folded-up kitchen towel, hold the oyster steady with your nondominant hand, with the hinge facing your dominant hand. Use the tip of an oyster knife to gently pry open the hinge, then twist and rotate the knife until the hinge pops open. Continue to pry, opening the oyster further. Wipe your blade clean as needed. Sweep the blade flat across the top of the oyster, gently slicing through the muscle that connects the oyster to the top shell. Remove and discard the top shell. Take care not to tip the oyster and lose the liquor inside the shell. Scrape the knife between the oyster and the bottom shell to sever the muscle attaching them, and set the shucked oyster, in the bottom shell, aside.
3. Preheat a grill over medium. Dab about 1 teaspoon of the butter mixture onto each oyster, and use tongs to transfer the oysters, still in their bottom shells, to the grill. Cook, uncovered, just until the butter is melted and bubbling; the oysters will be warmed through and slightly cooked. Use tongs to transfer the oysters to a platter. Top with chervil and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer.