Oyster Roasting Guide
While it may seem like an intimidating event to host, with a little patience and the right equipment and tools, planning your own Lowcountry-style oyster roast can be a fun, unique, memorable, and most of all delicious way to gather with family and friends. In fact, rather than a stressful, scary event to host, a properly thrown oyster roast is a classic, casual get together that can be as simple to manage as a weekend backyard grill-out.
Gathering The Proper Equipment
So, first and foremost, you need to gather the proper equipment and tools to ensure you have everything you need before you start.
- An outdoor work table for people to stand around and shuck oysters together. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Two sturdy old sawhorses and some decent plywood work just fine.
- Oyster knives. Invite guests to bring their own, and provide different knife styles for guests who don’t have their own.
- Gloves. Either rubber-coated cotton gloves or stainless steel mesh gloves are good. Best of all, of course, would be your collection of OysterGrips.
- Oysters, naturally. Ask your seafood supplier how many you need for your specific number of guests, as those numbers can vary greatly depending on the type of oysters you serve.
Now you’re ready to roast.
Or rather, to steam.
How to Steam the Oysters for Your Roast
That’s right, the oysters at an oyster roast aren’t technically roasted. Or not entirely, anyway. They are placed on a hot cooking surface, yes, but they’re also buried under soaking wet burlap, which steams the oysters.
For your oyster roasting pit, dig a shallow, flat bottom trench a few inches deep. Place two pairs of cinder blocks around the trench to serve as table legs. Build a fire in the middle of the legs, and then place a piece of sheet metal over the fire. This is your cooking surface.
Shovel some oysters onto the sheet, making sure each oyster is making contact with the hot metal. Then layer water-soaked burlap over the top of the oysters to steam them.
Approximately 8-10 minutes later, they’re done. You’ll know they’re ready when the shells first start to open. Be sure not to spill the liquor inside the shells, and not to overcook them and cause the liquor to evaporate it, as the liquor is some of the best, most flavorful part of the oyster experience. When they’re finished steaming, scoop them up with the shovel and dump them on the table for your guests to shuck and enjoy.
Don't Forget the Condiments and Drinks
Typically, the condiments necessary for a proper oyster roast are cocktail sauce, horseradish, lemon wedges and a variety of hot sauces, plus Saltine crackers and plenty of paper towels.
As for drinks, since oyster roasts are most often a casual affair, the modern-traditional adult beverage of choice for oyster roasts is typically just a nice cold beer of choice. If you prefer wine, then crisp, dry whites like Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadet pair very nicely with oysters.
Oyster roasts take some planning and preparation, but once you get the hang of it, and as long as you have your materials ready before you begin, they’re really quite easy to set-up, host and enjoy. So go ahead, do some lowcountry living and host your own oyster roast.