Chris recently made us smoked chargrilled oysters on the half shell and we paired them with an easy going lager I fell in love with recently. The essence of summer time some might argue. I’d say – yes!! Because of grilling and because of Pacific wonderland (read Oregon) adventures.
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In essence, this post is about pairing the quintessential East Coast Blue Point oysters with a Pacific Northwest craft beer that pretty much captures what Oregon stands for. For lovers of the great outdoors like us, Oregon is all about mountain biking on buttery packed trails, sand dunes exploration and crabbing, waterfall hiking and Columbia kite surfing, fly-fishing and Deschutes rafting, Mt. Bachelor skiing and Crater lake meditations. And don’t forget the pinot noirs of the Willamette and the winding country roads between the wineries. And never, not even for a minute, disrespect the craft beer. Especially the craft beer and breweries of Bend.
Our smoked chargrilled oysters found a perfect partner in the Deschutes Brewery Pacific Wonderland Lager (IBU 40, ABV 5.5%). Unlike the lagers I typically favor (Pilsners, Helles, Vienna lager) this pilsner malt lager is dry-hopped and bottle conditioned. The dry-hopping (adding hops to the secondary fermentation to impart hop aroma) was done with a very fragrant hop variety, Tettnag Mandarin, which gives the lager vibrant citrusy aromas. The bottle conditioning (adding live yeast to each bottle) enhances the aging process and helps it stay fresher longer. Chris liked it well enough, but for me it was almost like a beer love affair.
Chris has been wanting to smoke oysters ever since I gave him a copy of Project Smoke by Steven Raichlen (thanks Karrie for the recommendation, the book is awesome). I wanted to, like really, really wanted to, try this this recipe for chargrilled oysters I saw not long ago on Brittany’s blog Beyond the Bayou. She makes food that seriously strikes a chord with me. (I just love her work and will not share more details on her cooking style so that you’d go check her out yourself. You can buy me a ‘thank you’ beer later:).
In the end Chris smoked the oysters on the charcoal grill with a medley of apple wood and mesquite chips (we have a smoking firebox box attached to our gas/charcoal combo grill).
We pretty much replicated the butter compound she used in her grilled oysters recipe, except for leaving out one ingredient. We used the butter on the smoked chargrilled oysters and a whole grilled chicken. Just look at it melting. You wait for it to start bubbling away and drizzle it over the oysters while they are smoking. Sooo good!
The smoked chargrilled oysters and the crisp lager make a great appetizer pairing. We grilled and enjoyed our beers after a hike here in Colorado, but with very fond memories of the Pacific wonderland that Oregon is. It will not be long before we find ourselves there again, I am sure of it. And to think of all the new beers we’ll get to taste once we go!
PS. While shucking the oysters, Chris found this little guy:
Cheers! Here is the recipe for the oysters. Come back soon!
- 12 large East Coast oysters (such as Blue Point), shucked
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 2 tsp minced shallots
- 2 tsp minced red chile
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tbsp finely chopped Italian flat leaf parsley + more for garnish
- 2 tbsp grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 lemon sliced (to char and juice over cooked oysters)
- 2 quarts of apple wood and /or mesquite chips
- Start by soaking the chips in water (they need to soak for 15-20 min).
- Light charcoals in a chimney starter and once they are very hot and ambered spread them over the charcoal grill bed.
- Strain the water off the soaking chips and place them directly over the ambered charcoals.
- Wait for the initial heavy and bitter smoke to clear before placing the oysters on the grill. You are after a delicate smoking.
- Place the lemon wedges on the grill at the time you put the oysters.
- Place a small cast iron skillet on the grill with the butter, cheese, garlic, chile, salt, parsley, lemon zest, shallot and wait until the butter melts and begins to bubble.
- Spoon butter compound over each oyster.
- Once the cheese begins to crisp up, remove the oysters (about 8 minutes).
- Arrange oysters and marked lemon wedges on a platter, garnish with parsley and open a cold craft beer. Enjoy!