Pomegranates are a difficult fruit. They’re messy; they’re hard to open. And if you have a lot of white clothing and/or furniture, they’re downright dangerous. But they’re also pretty daggone tasty.
As one who has purchased several sets of Kevlar gloves and shellfish-shucking utensils, I ascribe all the same characteristics to oysters. Messy. Difficult. Dangerous. Delicious.
Here’s my solution: I gently oven-barbecue the oysters until they pop open of their own accord, then I top them with a light mélange of flavor-enhancing ingredients and broil just until the breadcrumbs brown — not more than a couple minutes. The result is a succulent (and deceptively easy) dish of oysters to delight the mouth and impress the dinner guests.
serves one or two
A dozen unopened oysters
1/3 cup hot water
1/3 cup breadcrumbs (or bread/rolls/crackers)
A lemon (or 2 Tbsp lemon juice)
4 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup grated or sliced cheese (I prefer very sharp cheddar; you could also go the bleu route)
Sprinklings of paprika
Preheat your oven to 475 or so. If your bread isn’t yet breadcrumbs, cut it into quarter-inch cubes and toast it under the broiler until the cubes are lightly golden brown. If you’re using crackers, drop them into a Ziplock bag and smash them into crumbs with your fist. Also, take this opportunity to melt your butter in a measuring cup in the microwave.
Next, place your oysters in a single layer on a jelly roll or roasting pan; pour in the hot water; and put the whole pan in the oven. In 5-7 minutes, the oysters should have popped open ever so slightly at their seams. If one or two remain unopened, leave them in the oven for another couple minutes; if they never do open, give up and trash ‘em.
Using oven mitts and a butter knife, carefully pop off our little friends’ hats the rest of the way and discard them. You’ll need to look carefully for seams in the shells, wiggle your knife in between, and pry them open.
Arrange the oyster halves on a cookie or jelly roll sheet or broiler pan, and turn your oven’s broiler on.
Squeeze a generous amount of lemon juice over each, then sprinkle a soupçon of breadcrumbs on each one, put a lump or two of cheese on each, and finally, drizzle a liberal stream of butter over each half shell, breadcrumbs, oysters, cheese, and all.
If you really want to, you can add other things you might have lying around your kitchen, such as green onions, Tabasco, or bacon. And although I’m certain that sharp cheddar is delicious, you might try gouda, brie, or bleu, too.
Finally, pop the sheet under the broiler. Only leave the oysters under the broiler long enough for the cheese to melt. Pull them out quickly, and remembering your oven mitt, arrange them on a plate, dashing just a bit of paprika over the melted cheese and toasty breadcrumbs.
So, to sum up: Grill, pop, top, and broil. It’s a 10 minute job, and it’s mighty tasty-slash-impressive.