When Paul and I first talked about opening Dressing Room, he asked about the ethics of including a recipe from another restaurant on our menu. I told him it depended on the chef and the restaurant, and when he said he was thinking about the roasted oysters served at Beacon in New York City, I approached my friend and Beacon chef, Waldy Malouf. Waldy is as generous and caring as Paul was, and when I told him Paul wanted the oysters on our menu, he immediately agreed and showed me how he prepared them. I changed the recipe a little, but it’s still a simple and beautiful one that celebrates the freshness of the oysters accented primarily by butter and thyme.
Chef Malouf’s willingness to share the recipe with me is a nod to the sustainability of friendship and sharing. If we all shared our favorite recipes with each other, everyone would cook more and know more about food. And that would make me happy: Chefs are always happiest in communities where their customers are good cooks!
Serves 4 to 6
1/3 cup white wine
1/4 cup good-quality white wine vinegar
1 shallot, thinly sliced + 24 thin shallot slices (about 4 shallots)
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 bay leaf
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3-4 cups rock salt
2 dozen raw oysters, shucked and left on the half shell
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Position the broiler rack as close as possible to the source of the heat. Preheat the broiler.
Heat the wine, vinegar, sliced shallot, peppercorns, and bay leaf in a small saucepan over medium-high heat to a full simmer. Reduce the heat. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and what is left is the consistency of maple syrup.
With the heat on low, whisk in the butter, a few pieces at a time, until all is incorporated. Do not add another piece of butter until the previous one is incorporated. Do not raise the heat. The sauce could break if it gets too hot.
Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside, covered, to keep warm.
Spread the rock salt in a single layer in a shallow baking pan that can fit under the broiler, such as a jelly roll pan. The salt will help the oysters stay level when you broil them.
Arrange the oysters, still in their bottom shells, on the salt, making sure they remain as level as possible.
Set a shallot slice over the top of each oyster. Spoon the butter sauce over each oyster.
Broil the oysters for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce browns and breaks slightly. Remove the oysters from the broiler. Sprinkle with the thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.
This recipe is from my cookbook, Sustainably Delicious, published by Rodale Books.
“Huitres Cancale” by Photo: Myrabella / Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Huitres_Cancale.jpg#/media/File:Huitres_Cancale.jpg