Four recipes to make a meal out of oysters: North Fork Chef

Baked oysters with aioli. (Credit: John Ross)

Baked oysters with aioli. (Credit: John Ross)

According to Greenport oyster farmer Mike Osinski, there is a movement afoot to have restaurants recycle their oyster shells into making jetties in the bay, right back in their natural habitat.

Mr. Osinski and his wife, Isobel, own and operate Widow’s Hole Oysters in Greenport. They are growing and harvesting oysters that are over 3 years old, resulting in very large oysters with big, juicy meats inside. When cooked with various accompaniments, these oysters can be served as entrées and eaten with a knife and fork instead of just being slurped down. Here are some suggestions on how to prepare these delicious shellfish.

Baked Oysters with Aioli, Radish, Celery Root and Horseradish

Shuck 12 large oysters, saving the bottom shells. Place the meats and juices in a bowl and refrigerate.

With a box grater, using the large holes, shred 12 radishes, 1 celery root and 1/2 cup fresh horseradish into a large bowl. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon cider vinegar on them and toss to prevent oxidation.

Make an aioli sauce by placing in the bowl of your food processor 1 tablespoon minced garlic, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons panko crumbs. Pulse these together and add 2 egg yolks. With the processor running, drizzle in a few drops of olive oil to form an emulsion, then increase to a steady stream to make a total of 3/4 cup oil.

Pulse in the juice of 1 lemon, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper. It should be a thick, mayonnaise-like sauce.

Rinse the oyster shells and place a heaping tablespoon of the shredded vegetables in the bottom of each one. Put them on a foil-lined sheet pan and place the oyster meats on top of the vegetables, along with any juices. Spoon aioli sauce liberally over each oyster and sprinkle with panko crumbs. Finish by sprinkling a little paprika over each oyster.

At service time, place the oysters in a 400-degree oven until the crumbs brown, about 10 minutes.

Serves 2 as an entrée or 4 as a first course. Eat them with your knife and fork.

Shrimp-Stuffed Oysters

Shuck 12 large oysters, loosening the meats, but leaving them in the half-shell. Place them on a foil-lined sheet pan and refrigerate.

Peel and de-vein 5 large shrimp and chop coarsely with a chef’s knife.

Heat a large sauté pan and add 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in 1 teaspoon minced garlic; 2 minced scallions; 1 stalk of celery, minced; and 1 minced shallot. Cook briefly and add the chopped shrimp.

Continue cooking at medium heat and season with 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, 1/2 teaspoon celery seed, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper.

When the shrimp turn pink, stir in 2 tablespoons flour and 1 cup heavy cream. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Thicken with 3/4 cup panko crumbs and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Transfer to a shallow pan and refrigerate until cool.

At service time, spoon the shrimp mixture over the oysters in their shells and sprinkle with paprika. Heat in a 400-degree oven until hot, about 15 minutes.

Serves 2-4.

Saltine-Breaded Oysters with Spinach and Tartar Sauce

Shuck 12 large oysters, reserving the bottom shells. Place the meats in the refrigerator and rinse the shells.

Process 1 sleeve of standard saltine crackers in your food processor to make fine crumbs. Put these in a shallow pan.

Add 1 cup flour to another pan and beat 2 eggs in a bowl with 1/4 cup milk. Season the flour with 1 teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning.

Dredge the oysters in the flour, then coat them in the egg mixture, then press them into the saltines.

Make tartar sauce by combining 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon pickle relish, 2 teaspoons chopped capers, 1 tablespoon chopped chives, 1 teaspoon chopped tarragon and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Steam 1 package of baby spinach until just wilted and squeeze out the moisture.

At service time, heat a large sauté pan and add 1/4 cup canola oil. When hot, add the breaded oysters and cook until brown on each side, about 5 minutes total. Lift them out of the pan and place them on a paper towel-lined plate.

Spoon the spinach into the bottom shells of the oysters and put the cooked oysters on top. Reheat briefly if necessary and serve with the tartar sauce and lemon on the side.

Serves 2-4.

Deviled Oysters with Swiss Chard

Shuck 12 large oysters, reserving the bottom shells. Place the meats in the refrigerator and rinse the shells.

Remove the leaves from 1 head of green Swiss chard and cut into thin strips. Trim 6 radishes and grate them, using the large holes of a box grater.

Heat a sauté pan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the Swiss chard and radishes. Cook, covered, at high heat for 2 minutes and drain. Press as much liquid out as possible and fill the oyster shells.

Sprinkle Pernod, and any oyster liquor left from shucking the oysters, over the Swiss chard filling.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter and combine it with 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard in a bowl. Put 1 cup panko crumbs in a pie tin.

Coat each oyster in the mustard mixture, then press it into the panko crumbs. Repeat with all the oysters.

Heat a large sauté pan and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sauté the panko-covered oysters until just brown on each side, about 5 minutes total. Place them on the Swiss chard-filled shells. Sprinkle finely minced red pepper and scallion over the oysters and heat in a 400-degree oven for 5 minutes.

Serves 2-4.

John Ross