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Off the Menu: Charbroiled oysters at Hilton New Orleans Riverside

Discover the best way to cook oysters — Big Easy style — with Austin Egan, executive restaurant chef at Hilton New Orleans Riverside. | By Alison Cavatore | February 16, 2023

If you’ve ever been to New Orleans, you’ve likely heard of Drago’s Seafood Restaurant’s charbroiled oysters. The popular eatery makes over 500,000 oysters per year — locals love them, visitors crave them.

A culinary staple in the Big Easy, these fresh Louisiana Gulf oysters are full of flavor, prepared with authentic Southern flair and perhaps best described in three words: Guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

If you’re wondering what the best way is to cook oysters, don’t let the shucking process scare you off. With a few simple tips and tricks from executive restaurant chef Austin Egan, you too can whip up a tasty plate of charbroiled oysters (loaded with the restaurant’s signature garlic butter, of course) in the comfort of your own home.

Says chef Egan, “Cooking seafood doesn’t have to be scary. This is the perfect dish to start with, you couldn’t make them taste bad if you tried! Definitely a great party food at home! I make them whenever the family gets together.”

To chef Egan, food is community. “Good food is just the catalyst for creating memorable moments with people you care about and eating that food again in the future can bring you back to that moment. That, to me, is what makes the perfect meal,” says chef Egan.

To fully experience these bold flavors in the comfort of your home, the chef recommends keeping the trimmings simple: Sliced French bread — perfect for soaking up all the deliciousness — and lemon wedges will do the trick.

So, are you ready to make your home the next best oyster bar? With this simple charbroiled oysters recipe, you can. Happy grilling!

Drago’s Charbroiled OystersDrago’s Charbroiled Oysters

Makes 1 dozen oysters

Garlic butter ingredients  

1 ½ cups of butter

1 head of garlic, chopped

1 sprig fresh oregano, chopped

1 sprig fresh thyme, chopped

1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped

Oysters ingredients  

1 dozen oysters

12 oz garlic butter

3 ounces cheese-blend (finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Romano cheese and fresh parsley)

Note: This dish is best served with lemon wedges and freshly sliced French bread.

Garlic butter preparation

In a saucepan over low heat, melt a couple tablespoons of butter.

Peel one head of garlic. Using the flat edge of a butcher’s knife, smash the garlic cloves to make it easier to chop.

Add the chopped garlic to the saucepan.

Once the garlic has sweated a bit in the saucepan, add the rest of the butter. Once all the butter is melting, add the chopped oregano thyme and rosemary. Continue to slowly melt the mixture over low heat. Watch closely so that butter doesn’t separate.

While butter is melting, slice French bread in 1 ½-inch pieces and cut lemon wedges. Cut off the ends of the lemon wedges for a nicer presentation. Set aside.

Using a microplane (note: you can also use a cheese grater if that’s all you have), grate a half-and-half mixture of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Romano cheese. Mix in chopped fresh parsley.

Oysters' preparation    

Preheat grill to as hot as it will get.

Prepare a bowl of ice to keep oysters cool during preparation. 

With an oyster knife, go at the hinge of the oyster shell and lightly twist your wrist until the oyster pops open. Tip: Hold the oyster in a dish towel to protect you from slips while shucking with the oyster knife.

Detach the muscle that keeps the oyster in the shell. Note: Be sure to wipe your knife frequently to avoid getting bits of shell in the body of the oyster.

Keep oysters in the bottom shell as a bowl to hold the garlic butter and cheese during charbroiling.

Place oysters on the grill, as close together as possible.

Pour garlic butter over the oysters and cook for 60 seconds, or until the edges of the shell start to have some color.

Sprinkle two to three handfuls of the cheese blend over the oysters until nicely coated. Drizzle more garlic butter over the top to get the flame going. Cook for another 30 seconds.

Remove oysters from grill once cheese is melted and browning on top.

To serve, arrange charbroiled oysters on dish and top with more garlic butter and cheese. Finish your plate with lemon wedges and sliced French bread.

(Recipe from Austin Egan, executive restaurant chef, Hilton New Orleans Riverside, 2022.)

Alison Cavatore is the assistant editor for the content marketing team at Hilton. She has written and copyedited for numerous print and digital publications in the U.S. and abroad. Born in Pittsburgh, PA, Alison has lived in Miami, Scottsdale, Holland, France, Switzerland and Canada. She currently resides in the Washington, D.C. area.

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