Grilled Oysters with Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Grilling oysters is a nice variation that lets you enjoy them in an outdoor setting. Grilled oysters pick up a bit of...
Contributor

John Valls

Grilling oysters is a nice variation that lets you enjoy them in an outdoor setting. Grilled oysters pick up a bit of smoke, so pairing them with a homemade barbecue sauce is an obvious choice. In my barbecue sauce, I only use black pepper for heat because I’m looking for the warm background notes, not the hot upfront heat you would get from chiles or chile flakes.

When you are prepping the oysters, make sure to rinse them in a colander under cold water and, using a green scrubby pad, scrub and inspect each oyster for sand, dirt, seaweed, and crustaceans that have attached themselves to the shells. It’s important to remove these elements to ensure a pleasant and enjoyable eating experience. — Adam Sappington

Recipes and Photos from HEARTLANDIA by Adam and Jackie Sappington. Copyright © 2015 by Adam Sappington and Jackie Sappington. Photography © 2015 by John Valls. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

4
Servings
924
Calories Per Serving
Deliver Ingredients

Notes

If you don’t have access to a smoker, you can skip step 1 to make this barbecue sauce with plain canned tomatoes and still get great results.

Ingredients

For the barbecue sauce:

  • 2 Cups hickory chips, for smoking
  • 28 Ounces canned, unsalted whole peeled tomatoes or unsalted diced tomatoes, with their juices
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium celery stalk, trimmed, peeled, and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 Cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 Cup unsulphured blackstrap molasses
  • 1/4 Cup tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 Tablespoon ground mustard seed
  • 2 Teaspoons ground celery seed
  • 2 Teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 Teaspoons onion powder

For the oysters:

  • 24 medium oysters in the shell, scrubbed
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • Kosher salt, for serving

Directions

For the barbecue sauce:

Soak the wood chips according to package instructions and heat a smoker to 225 degrees F. Place the wet hickory chips over the fire or in an electric hopper. Place the tomatoes with their juices in a stainless-steel, nonreactive roasting pan and smoke for 1-1/2 hours. (This step can be done a day ahead.)

Arrange a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine the onion, celery, garlic, sugar, molasses, tomato paste, vinegar, pepper, salt, mustard seed, celery seed, garlic powder, and onion powder and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper to balance the salty-sweet flavors you want in a barbecue sauce. Pour the mixture into a 9-inch square baking pan and roast for 1 hour 30 minutes or until the crust is caramelized and the sauce has reduced by about one-quarter to create deep, pronounced flavors.

Remove the barbecue sauce from the oven and let cool slightly. Season with salt and pepper and let cool for at least 1 hour at room temperature or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Working in batches, in a blender or the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade; purée the barbecue sauce until smooth, about 3 minutes. (Alternatively, purée the barbecue sauce directly in the pan using an immersion blender.) Transfer the barbecue sauce to an airtight container and set aside.

For the oysters:

Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill. Arrange a grill grate 2 inches above the coals. Arrange the oysters on the grill grate over direct heat with the bowl side of the oysters over the heat, not the lid. Grill until the shells pop open and the juices are boiling hot, turning halfway through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. (Make sure to use a kitchen towel and a pair of tongs when turning the oysters and removing them from the grill. If the oysters don’t pop open but the juices are spitting out of the side, this is an indicator that they are done as well. Remember, you don’t want to overcook the oysters and boil all the water out, so plan on babysitting them.)

Transfer the oysters to a cutting board to cool slightly. Using an oyster shucker, unhinge the oyster shell and loosen the muscle from the shell. Place a pool of kosher salt on a large platter and place the oysters on the half shell on top of the salt. (This helps the oyster stand up and not fall over.) Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the barbecue sauce onto each oyster. (Reserve the remaining barbecue sauce for another use. Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, it will keep for up to 3 weeks.) Squeeze the lemon over the whole plate of oysters and dig in.

Nutritional Facts

Total Fat
40g
57%
Sugar
22g
24%
Saturated Fat
4g
17%
Cholesterol
7mg
2%
Carbohydrate, by difference
125g
96%
Protein
17g
37%
Vitamin A, RAE
122µg
17%
Vitamin B-12
1µg
42%
Vitamin B-6
1mg
77%
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid
24mg
32%
Vitamin K (phylloquinone)
51µg
57%
Calcium, Ca
211mg
21%
Choline, total
35mg
8%
Copper, Cu
1mg
0%
Fiber, total dietary
16g
64%
Folate, total
295µg
74%
Iron, Fe
9mg
50%
Magnesium, Mg
151mg
47%
Manganese, Mn
2mg
100%
Niacin
11mg
79%
Pantothenic acid
2mg
40%
Phosphorus, P
396mg
57%
Riboflavin
1mg
91%
Selenium, Se
32µg
58%
Sodium, Na
1104mg
74%
Thiamin
1mg
91%
Water
173g
6%
Zinc, Zn
3mg
38%

Grilled Oyster Shopping Tip

Seafood shopping is quite easy in the general sense. Rule of thumb: if it smells fishy, don't buy. Fresh seafood should smell mild and more like the ocean and sea water rather than fish.

Grilled Oyster Cooking Tip

To save time and limit waste, buy oysters that have been pre-shucked at your local fish market.