Introduction: Hog Island Oyster Co. Grilled Oysters

Years ago my significant other and I traveled to the West Coast to visit family. While driving along Highway 1, we stumbled upon Hog Island Oyster Co. We quickly pulled over and discovered an incredible seaside patio with a small grilling/shucking station serving fresh oysters. We opted for their grilled/barbequed oysters because they smelled and looked amazing. We were not disappointed, and it was one of the highlights of our trip out West.

Fast forward to 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic. We were cooped up at home, unable to travel and explore. We saw an article in Bon Appetit magazine that mentioned Hog Island Oyster Co. and their pandemic business model pivot to ship live oysters around the country. We decided to splurge on an order of oysters for a Christmas meal to recreate the fond memory of our trip out West and our amazing meal. Alternatively you can source oysters locally. The only tools you need for this are shucking gloves, a shucking knife, a grill, and some basic ingredients.

Step 1: The Compound Butter

Hog Island Oyster Co. makes large batches of a chipotle compound butter. A small dollop is placed onto each oyster. As the butter melts, the oyster is cooked in an amazing spicy/sweet/smoky sauce. To make a small batch of this butter, follow the recipe below.

  • 1 Stick of Unsalted Butter, Softened
  • 2 TB Brown Sugar
  • 2-3 Cloves of Finely Diced Garlic
  • 2-3 Chipotles Peppers in Adobo Sauce Diced (we freeze the rest of the can for later use)
  • 1TB of Bourbon (Optional)

In a bowl, thoroughly mix together all ingredients, cover, and place in the fridge to chill before use.

The oysters we received from Hog Island needed a short scrub under cold water to remove any dirt/debris. If you buy oysters from your local grocery store, they may be cleaned already. Oysters have a cupped shell side and a flat shell side. Keep the oyster in the cupped shell side and remove the top flat shell.

Carefully insert the shucking knife into the oyster at the hinge. Work the knife up to the main part of the shell and separate the cupped shell from the flat top shell. After separating the oyster from the top of the shell, slide the knife under the oyster to disconnect it from the bottom cupped shell. Inspect for any bits of debris or shell introduced during the shucking process. There are plenty of videos and guides on YouTube if further instruction is required. Place the shucked oysters on a bed of crushed ice and top with 1/2 TB of the Chipotle Butter before grilling.

Step 2: Grilling

Light the charcoal or fire up a gas grill. I like the extra smoky flavor of charcoal, so I used a small Weber Smokey Joe. After the coals/grill is heated, place the oysters on the grill and cook for a few minutes. Once the butter is melted and the oysters are bubbling, they can be removed from the grill and allowed to cool for a few moments. I placed them on top of some paper towels to keep them upright and prevent any of the delicious juice/butter from spilling out. These are great served simply with sliced lemons and some fresh sour dough bread to sop up the juice and melted butter. In a time of isolation and uncertainty, this simple meal brought a smile to our faces and reminded us of what we hoped to return to eventually!

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