Oysters, with Enhancements

Summertime, and the living is easy. It will soon be too hot for oven time, so here is a nice cool option when you're sitting on your deck, listening to the waves, with a frosty libation in your hand!

There's the old adage about only eating oysters during the "R" months. Here is some info, courtesy of thespruceeats.com, which should ease any concerns:

Year-Round Oyster Enjoyment

Thanks to refrigeration, you can ignore the "r" rule and consume good oysters in spring and summer without incident. You can get them from cool waters or from farms, which gives them optimal flavor even in a month without an "r." In fact, a new genetic procedure being used by some commercial oyster farms renders farm-raised oysters sterile, so they don't spawn at all. These prime oysters are available for year-round enjoyment.

Best Oyster Season

The answer about oyster season depends on several factors. You have to know your oyster. If you feel confident that you are getting a fresh oyster from a cool-water location, you should have a tasty oyster that will not make you sick any time of year. Likewise, if you are in a state along the Gulf of Mexico, have no fear if you are barbecuing or whipping up some oysters Rockefeller.

Warm-weather bivalves pose no threat in that situation. When you're dining on local catch, though, it's best to note the weather. If that's the case, you may want to stick to the old "r" rule—better safe than sorry, right? 

Buying and Storing Tips

If you have decided the time is right to buy some oysters, choose those that are heavy and full of water. They must be sold live, and live ones will be clamped shut or will clamp shut when they are tapped. A dead oyster will have a loose shell and should be avoided at all costs. Oysters taste the best when they are eaten within 24 hours of when you buy them, but you can store them in the refrigerator for up to five days in a mesh bag or open container covered with a damp cloth and large shell down. 

I know folks who wolf down oysters until they are gone, usually as is, maybe with hot sauce or lemon juice. Mignonettes and some granitas add variety and some acidity to the rich salinity of the oyster.

Happy slurping!

Oysters with Watermelon Mint Granita and Mignonettes

8 oz seedless watermelon, peeled and diced

3 tbs fresh lemon juice

8 mint leaves, chopped

Sea salt

Fresh ground pepper

12 oysters, shucked

Zest of 1 lemon, for garnish

Puree watermelon in a blender until smooth. Strain mixture in to silicone loaf pan. Add lemon juice, mint, ¼ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Cover with plastic wrap, and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours.

Scrape up granita with a fork, you should have definite light crystals. Return to the freezer, and shuck the oysters.

Arrange shucked oysters on crushed ice. Scrape the granita again. Top oysters with a spoonful of granita, and sprinkle with lemon zest.

Basic Mignonette:

½ cup shallots, finely minced

¼ cup white vinegar

¼ cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar

1/8 tsp sugar

1/8 tsp salt

1 ¼ tsp fresh white peppercorns, crushed

Combine all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, the longer, the better.

Blackberry Mignonette:

1 cup blackberry vinegar

3 oz fresh blackberries, chopped

2 tbs minced shallot

½ tsp (each) black, white, pink peppercorns

a pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

1 thyme sprig

Combine all ingredients and leave to blend for at least an hour. The longer, the better. Remove thyme sprig before using.

Green Apple Mignonette:

1/4 cup apple cider

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

3 tbs granny smith apples, small dice

2 tbs pomegranate arils, optional

1 tbs shallot, finely chopped

1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper

2 tsp finely chopped parsley, optional

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and chill. Let the mignonette chill as well!

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