Ask any Savannah local for their best entertaining idea during winter months, and you’re likely going to get the response, “have an oyster roast!” Oyster roasts are popular because the require little set up, are an easy way to feed a crowd, and because oysters are just so darn delicious.
What you’ll need:
If you want local oysters for your oyster roast, there are really two places to get them. Ambos Seafood in Savannah, GA and The Bluffton Oyster Company on the South Carolina side of the Savannah River. A bushel of oysters has roughly 100 clusters and will feed 4-6 people. The seafood monger will ask if you want your oysters washed or unwashed. Do yourself a favor and pay the upcharge to have them washed. There’s nothing worse than opening an oyster and having your knife transfer thick, sticky, pluff mud to the delicious morsel beneath the shell.
*Save that burlap sack!
Damp Burlap Sack or Beach Towel
The traditional method of “roasting” oysters is to cook them with steam over an open fire pit covered by a grate or steel plate. You can also use a charcoal grill. Shovel or place oyster clusters on the grate and cover with a damp burlap sack or beach towel This will provide steam to help cook the oysters. You can also roast them uncovered. Cook the oysters for 5-7 minutes.
Properly Dressed Table
Oyster roasts, due to their messy nature, are best presented outdoors. You will want a long table, traditionally one at which your guests can stand. Dress it with butcher paper or a cover that you can easily dispose of at the end of the evening.
Idea: spread your table with inexpensive butcher paper and leave out jelly jars with markers or crayons for your guests to doodle while they eat and mingle.
Tools of the trade: Shucking Gloves, Knives, Towels, and Paper Towels.
Roasted oysters are infinitely easier to open than raw oysters, but still require a little bit of elbow grease. You’ll want to have a good, strong, blunt-end knife to pry open the shells as well as gloves and/or towels to prevent stabbing yourself.
Some love an oyster so much, that they’ll forego everything else and just suck them down “naked.” But most oyster roasts provide the following: melted butter, lemon wedges, cocktail sauce, and saltine crackers. To be extra, serve some prepared horseradish for those who like their cocktail sauce extra hot. A selection of hot sauces such as Tabasco or Texas Pete would also be appreciated by your spicier guests.
Try Texas Pete in cocktail sauce or by itself on a roasted oyster.
Serve whatever you like to drink, but any oyster roast aficionado will tell you that beer is the best accompaniment. Savannah has several local breweries with many options to please your thirsty crowd.
Lincoln’s Gift Oyster Stout by Savannah’s Service Brewing is a special release beer that comes out once a year around December. It is made with local May River oysters, which give the beer an ever-so-slightly briny flavor. Trust us, it is dee-licious!
Trash Cans and Heavy-Duty Trash Bags
Discarded oyster shells are heavy and smelly. Immediately following your party, you’ll want to dispose of your shells. If you are willing to go the extra mile, there are places in the lowcountry where you can recycle them:
Whether you're a fan of oysters or you're cooking for friends and family, you can host the perfect oyster roast by following these simple steps!