Does seafood taste better when eaten seaside? What about on an island? Well, Grillin’ Fools Greg and Tom do both every year when vacationing on Dauphin Island, Alabama. We’ve grilled shrimp, snapper, grouper, flounder, but our favorite is oysters. Typically, we employ a simple recipe that Tom and his better half, Tracy, created but this time out we gave the oysters an Italian twist by adding pancetta to what we are calling Grilled Oysters Pancetta.
Grilled Oysters Pancetta Ingredients:
1/4 lb (one stick) butter
1/4 lb (one stick) butter
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp fresh horseradish
1 tbsp minced garlic
4 shakes Worcestershire sauce
4 shakes hot sauce
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
Dozen fresh oysters in the shell
Green onions chopped for garnish
4 slices pancetta fried crisp then chopped for topping
Now on to prepping the oysters. Insert the oyster knife at the point of the shell and twist. To see more detail on shucking oysters look here:
The mothers are shucked!
Pro Tip: When shucking the oysters try to save as much of the natural liquid of the oyster as possible (called liquor or oyster liquor) because that oyster liquor is PACKED with flavor. Also, any oysters you shuck that have little to no liquor should be checked for freshness to make sure they haven’t gone bad.
Grate the parmesan cheese then combine the other mixture ingredients in a bowl:
What is pancetta (pan-cheh-tuh)?
I thought it was like prosciutto, nope, that comes from the hind leg of the hog. Pancetta is an Italian invention that is an unsmoked, seasoned, salt-cured meat made from pork belly, which is where we get bacon from. So it’s fancy pants bacon.
Where can you get it? Some grocery stores carry it in the deli but here in the St. Louis area we went to an Italian neighborhood known as The Hill and visited DiGregorio’s Market to buy Volpi pancetta (produced just a few blocks away). It doesn’t get more Italian or authentic than that. The Market had so many items not seen in a regular grocery store and we’ve been making repeat visits on the regular.
Fire up the portable grill and heat the cast iron skinny skillet then toss on the pancetta slices to make that fancy pants bacon:
Cook the slices until crispy and golden brown. I want to eat that right now!
Transfer to a cutting board and then stack ’em and whack ’em!
Chopped and set aside:
Arrange the half shell oysters and spoon a dollop of the mixture onto each one. I didn’t know what a dollop was so I looked it up and after reading all the different definitions I still don’t know what it is but I think one looks like this:
Ok, there’s a dollop on each sea creature:
Grillin’ Fool Tom escorts the soon to be Grilled Oysters Pancetta to the grill in all they’ve been dolloped (is that a word?):
They’re on! With a little smoke wood action too:
Once the oysters bubble for 30-60 seconds they’re ready to come off the heat. They’re ready to top with crispy, (fancy bacon) pancetta and green onions:
Grab the microplane and give them a dusting of parmesan cheese (we bought that at DiGregorio’s too):
We moved to the seaside deck of the beach house, grabbed a cool beverage, and snapped a few pics:
The oysters were delicious but the crispy pancetta added an enhanced flavor and contrasting texture to the recipe. I love oysters and now I love pancetta too. I bought more and I’m trying to find more uses for it. It’s different from bacon because it isn’t smoked and I found it to be a little less salty also.
What brew is inside that DI koozie? Without naming brands here I’m told it comes from the oldest brewery in the country.
If you are ever in St. Louis be sure to visit The Hill. Many great Italian restaurants are there as well as specialty markets like DiGregorio’s.
Please do not visit Dauphin Island. I don’t want it to become too crowded! ;-)
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below or shoot me an email.
Grilled Oysters Pancetta
Author: Greg Thomas
Recipe type: Appetizer
Grilled oysters topped with butter, horse radish, cheese, pancetta and green onions to make Grilled Oysters Pancetta
- ¼ lb (one stick) butter
- ¼ lb (one stick) butter
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 tbsp fresh horseradish
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 4 shakes Worcestershire sauce
- 4 shakes hot sauce
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Dozen fresh oysters in the shell
- Green onions chopped for garnish
- 4 slices pancetta fried crisp then chopped for topping
- Shuck the oysters and set aside
- Combine all the ingredients except for the last three in a bowl and mix through
- Add a dollop of the butter/cheese mixture to each oyster
- Fry the pancetta in a pan just like bacon
- When golden brown, remove from the heat, allow to cool and rough chop
- Prepare the grill for direct grilling at medium high to high heat and add some wood chips or a wood chunk for some smoke
- Place each oyster over the hot coals and allow to cook
- Once the oysters have bubbled for 30-60 seconds, remove from the heat
- Add a punch of crispy pancetta and a punch of green onions to each oyster and then grate fresh parm over the top of all the oysters
- Serve immediately