The Fabulous Oysters Recipe Your Cocktail Party Needs
TipA fun holiday cocktail party doesn't have to be a ton of work. Follow the basic formula below, invite some friends, and you're good to go.
We love a good cocktail partyI love a good holiday cocktail party, don’t you? It doesn’t have to be anything tooooo fancy — better if it’s not, in fact. But a little bit of an excuse to feel pretty, be festive and have fun is always a good thing at this time of year. (Introvert real talk: an hour before getting ready, I rue the day I committed to a party like this, whether hosting or attending. But upon arrival everything changes, and I’m always beyond glad to have made it happen.) I won’t lie. I love getting together with friends, but a nearly equal measure of holiday party happiness for me comes from great food and drink. (Just try to act a little bit surprised for my benefit, okay? I know it’s not the biggest shocker of your life.)
Recipe for the perfect holiday cocktail partyThat said, it’s a busy time of year at a busy time of life. And even though I truly love to cook, nurturing that love involves pacing myself rather than cooking to death all the time. So a perfect holiday cocktail party might go something like this: Assemble a show-stopping cheese board in 15 minutes. Consider one signature cocktail for the event (maybe this one). Buy a mixed case of good, affordable wines. (Oh hey, Cavit Pinot Grigio and Select Red Blend!) Ask a few guests to bring bite-sized desserts of their choosing. Cook just a few things, most of which can be made ahead of time, and only one of which is a bit of a production. How about:
- Some veggies and a five-minute dip that accommodates many dietary restrictions
- Something hearty in the guise of something elegant, like mac and cheese baked in mini muffin tins
- One truly special dish to finish up at the last minute, like the stunner of an oysters recipe that you see here.
A few words about oyster shuckingI’ll say this: I’m impressed with the first people who figured out that oysters are edible (or that there’s a way to open the shell at all, to be honest). I’ll continue to be impressed no matter how many times someone says, “Well, they were starving, probably.” Still. This is one of those kitchen skills that you CAN get good at with hardly any persistence at all, and no more than half as much bravery as it takes to show up at your first yoga class. Take it from someone who’s cut herself on a stalk of Brussels sprouts: if I can shuck, you can shuck. For a tutorial, watch the short video below.
- 12 medium to large oysters, whatever variety you prefer
- 4 tablespoons salted butter
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Zest of 1 lemon, plus a squeeze of the juice
- 2 slices Prosciutto, finely chopped
- Kosher salt for the pan
- Scrub the oysters well under running water to remove all sand and dirt. To shuck each oyster, hold it in a kitchen towel with the cupped side of the shell facing down so you won't lose the beautiful liquor when you open it. Insert the tip of an oyster knife firmly into the hinge and twist until it pops open. Then run the knife across the inside of the top shell. Watch the video linked in the notes section below to see this done.
- Run the oyster knife between the meat and the bottom shell to fully release the meat from the shell so it can be slurped up later. Place shucked oysters on a rimmed baking pan lined with a big sheet of gently crumpled aluminum foil to prevent tipping. Discard top shells.
- In a small pot, melt the butter with the shallot over medium heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the basil, parsley and lemon zest.
- Line the bottom of a heavy 12-inch frying pan with about 1/4 inch of Kosher salt. (I really prefer a cast iron skillet for its superior heat retention). Preheat the pan over medium-high heat for at least 5 minutes, until the salt starts to make some little popping noises. Then quickly arrange the shucked oysters in the pan and top each with a spoonful of the herb butter. Cover the pan with a lid (carefully use foil if you don't have a lid that fits) and cook for three minutes, until the oysters are just opaque. They'll continue to cook a bit from the residual heat in the pan. Sprinkle with a little bit of chopped prosciutto and a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve warm straight from the pan.
Watch the video to learn how to shuck oysters. It's easier than you may think.
Need an oyster knife? Here you go. (Or pick one up where you buy your oysters.)