This Sunday, March 31st is National Oysters on the Half Shell Day! In the beautiful Commonwealth of Virginia, particularly in the Tidewater region, oysters can be enjoyed year-round thanks to our milder winters and abundant rivers. Waterways closer to the bay area produce oysters with more salinity, while rivers further away from the salt water produce sweeter, more buttery oysters. If you’re a fan of those sweeter oysters, look for growers on the James River. For more briny salty oysters, look for growers on the York River, or in the Chincoteague area. If you like a combination of the two, Gloucester Point has the perfect environment to produce buttery, briny oysters (Chef David suggests looking for Big Island Aquaculture). With so much access to one of nature’s finest products, Chef David McClure created 3 ways for you to celebrate this delicious holiday!
RAW OYSTERS WITH MIGNONETTE SAUCE
4 cups white balsamic
1 cup honey
1 Granny Smith Apple, finely diced
1 tsp pink peppercorn
1 cup champagne or sparkling wine
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients, stirring until well incorporated. Serve on the side with 1 dozen raw oysters, shucked.
CORNBREAD STUFFING BAKED OYSTERS
2 ½ cups cornbread
¾ cup diced bacon
¾ cup apple cider
½ Granny Smith Apple, diced
2 tbsp melted butter
Half dozen local oysters, shucked (do not drain liquor)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well until soft and doughy. Top each oyster with cornbread mixture, and bake for 7-8 minutes until golden brown.
2 cups heavy cream
8 ounces spinach
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp chopped shallots
1 ½ ounces anise flavored liquor
1 cup grated parmesan
1 tbsp butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium pot on medium high heat, combine butter, garlic, shallots and saute, add anise liquor. Add 1 cup of the heavy cream and allow to cook down for 5-10 minutes on a hard boil. Add spinach and cheese; adding more cream if needed. Shuck ½ dozen oysters, draining liquor. Lay out on baking sheet and using tongs, top with spinach mixture. Bake for 7-8 minutes, serve.