When the nights cool and crisp, folks here in the South get the craving for fresh oysters. And there’s no better way to enjoy the succulent taste of the slimy critters than with an oyster roast. It’s a fun, easy way to throw a dinner party, and it makes for great entertaining! If you make cold side dishes in advance, you can spend all your time with your guests, and none of it the kitchen! Half the fun is grilling the oysters. People seem to love standing around the grill, chatting, as the oysters cook.
To start with, you’ll need to decide where everyone will eat. We always have our oyster roasts on the deck. We have several outdoor table and chair sets, and if we need more seating, I put up a card table or two, along with some chairs. I usually just cover the tables with newspapers – the traditional table covering for oyster roasts and low country boils.
You’ll have to locate a seafood market that sells fresh oysters in the shell. These are usually sold by the bushel, and you can choose either selects or standard size. Selects are larger, with more meat for the amount of shell than the standards, but selects are more expensive. Some markets sell the selects by the count instead of by a bushel measurement – usually in amounts of 100. How many will you need? Most guidelines recommend six oysters per person, but in all honestly, I think most people will eat significantly more than that! There are probably around 120-130 oysters in a typical bushel.
Pick up your oysters on the afternoon of your oyster roast. Using a garden hose and a scrub brush, rinse the oysters and remove any mud from them. Check to make sure all of them are alive. If the shells are open, tap the oyster. If the shell doesn’t close immediately, the oyster is dead and should be discarded. When the oysters have been cleaned, place them in a cooler with ice. If it’s cold outside, the oysters won’t need extra refrigeration.
To go with the oysters, you’ll need saltine crackers, cocktail sauce, melted butter, and salt and pepper. Some of your guests will like some extra “heat,” so you’ll need to have some hot sauce and some extra grated horseradish, too. Place a little of each on these on all the tables. You might also want to place a large plastic bowl in the center of each table for shells, along with a roll of paper towels.
Keep your side items simple. Have dishes like cole slaw, potato salad, corn-on-the-cob, and/or macaroni salad. Garlic bread is also good with roasted oysters.
Use a gas or electric grill for cooking the oysters. You’ll need the heat at about the medium level. Some people place their oysters on a cookie sheet or similar pan, but we usually just place our oysters directly on the grill grates. Whichever method you choose, the oysters need to be covered with a wet cloth. We always use the burlap bag the oysters came in, and it works great. Just make sure it’s good and wet. Not only does this keep the heat evenly dispersed, it also allows the oysters to steam. Cook the oysters with the grill lid closed. When the oysters pop open, they’re done. You’ll probably have some guests who don’t like the big juicy oysters, so leave a few on the grill to dry and shrink some with additional cooking time.
Be sure to have several oyster knives and gloves on hand.
This is a great idea for easy entertaining! Heck, it’s so easy and quick, you can do it for just an easy dinner for the family. The roasted oysters also make a great appetizer for other meals, like grilled steaks.
For some great oyster recipes, click on the article link below:
More tips for entertaining:
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Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on January 12, 2011:
Amy, we had an oyster roast last week, with roasted potatoes, corn on the cob, salad, and hush puppies. Yum!
amyjoha on January 06, 2011:
Have oyster roasts yearly - looking for good side recipes:)
Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 05, 2010:
Send me a couple, JC! Have fun, and thanks for reading!
JC on February 05, 2010:
Grillin up about 3 bushels Sat. nite with chilli and lots of cold beer. We cook em on a piece of tin over a bed of coals. You're right, the fire is the place to be!!!
Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on October 26, 2009:
Hi, HH and Ethel! Glad you stopped by. I think they're an acquired taste. Not everyone likes them.
Hello, hello, from London, UK on October 26, 2009:
Like Ethel Smith I have never tasted Oysters but one day I will. Thank you for your hub.
Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on October 26, 2009:
Never tried Oysters but this sounds tempting. They are often expensive in the UK though
Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on October 25, 2009:
Thanks for reading, Robert!
robert on October 25, 2009:
i don't need all the sides. all i want are the oysters & a good cold beer. hot sauce does the trick with the oyster, but don't use to much