Peak Season for Briny Oysters
Whether served raw, stewed, fried, chargrilled or baked with a tasty topping, Louisiana is crazy about oysters and with good reason. Louisiana oysters grow in a unique environment that mixes the rich freshwater from the Mississippi River with the briny waves of Mexico. Beyond their great taste, Louisiana oysters have a big impact on Louisiana’s economy, providing 4,000 jobs and an economic impact of $317 million each year. For more information about the oyster and other seafood industries in Louisiana, visit LouisianaSeafood.com.
70% of the oysters caught in the U.S.
come from the Gulf Coast
(and more than 30% of those are caught in Louisiana waters).
ART ON THE HALF SHELL
In 2012, Jefferson Parish opened the Louisiana Oyster Trail, a collection of about dozen restaurants and destinations throughout the parish that serve to celebrate Louisiana oysters. Additionally, each restaurant hosts a custom piece of locally made, oyster-inspired artwork. Some can’t-miss dishes include pork chop stuffed with dressing (Café 61 Home of Da Wabbit, Gretna), charbroiled oysters (Drago’s Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar, Metairie) and a classic oyster po’boy (Short Stop Po-Boys, Metairie).
Hot Tails, New Roads | Sac-a-Lait, New Orleans
What makes Louisiana oysters special?
You need lots of nutrients in the water to grow great oysters, and that’s what we have. We’ve got the mighty Mississippi feeding all these nutrients to make the best-tasting, the most robust and the plumpest oysters.
How do you like to cook or serve Louisiana oysters?
They can handle some butter and garlic with a chargrill, but the new thing we’re doing with the raised-bed oysters is steaming them like mussels. They’re super clean-tasting, so we can cook them right in a broth.
What is the one must-try Louisiana oyster dish?
Chargrilled is a great entry-level oyster dish, but I love plump oysters in a gumbo or stew.
HOW TO STORE OYSTERS
FRESH: It’s best to eat live, fresh oysters within a day or two of purchase. To keep them fresh, wrap them in a damp kitchen towel and refrigerate (they’re most comfortable at around 40 degrees). Never submerge them in water or store in a sealed container. You should discard oysters that open before cooking or sound hollow when tapped.
FROZEN: Oysters can be frozen in their shells, on the half shell or fully shucked. Freeze shucked oysters in an airtight container with their liquor. Thaw the frozen oysters in the refrigerator overnight.
Makes 4 servings
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup finely chopped sweet yellow onion
- ½ cup finely chopped celery
- ⅓ cup finely chopped shallot 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (8-ounce) package fresh white button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided 4 cups heavy whipping cream
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 pound fresh oysters, shucked, drained (reserve oyster liquor*), and halved
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon hot sauce
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Garnish: lemon zest, chopped cooked bacon
- In a large Dutch oven, heat butter over medium heat. Add flour; cook, stirring constantly, until a light tan roux forms, 2 to 3 minutes. Add onion, celery, and shallot; cook, stirring frequently, just until beginning to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic; cook for 1 minute. Add mushrooms, thyme, and ½ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring gently, until mushrooms soften and begin to release liquid, 5 to 6 minutes.
- Gradually add cream, stirring constantly. Add wine, peppers, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture has slightly thickened, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Add oysters and reserved liquor; simmer mixture until oyster edges begin to curl, 2 to 3 minutes. Add lemon juice and hot sauce, stirring to combine. Remove from heat; stir in parsley. Garnish with zest and bacon, if desired.
Kitchen Tip: The juice inside an oyster that keeps it alive is called oyster liquor. It isn’t alcoholic, but it’s quite tasty and should always be reserved for cooking whenever possible.