Southern Living

THE OYSTER FEAST

DINNER ON THE DOCK

Chef Steven Satterfield and friends enjoy a laid-back supper centered on oysters that are from nearby Oyster Creek.

At low tide, the wild oyster reefs along this Georgia barrier island’s marshy shore stand out like gnarled stalagmites in a vast cave.

One misstep, and the flinty clusters of shell can cause serious injury. So chef Steven Satterfield comes prepared: rubber boots; thick gloves; and a knee-length, waterproof trench coat. Below his salt-and-pepper beard, not an inch of skin is showing.

Armed with a weathered roofing hammer, he climbs the craggy buttes of Chatham County’s Oyster Creek. Calcium dust chokes the air as he chisels out the choicest oysters and pitches them into a notched metal bucket. After an hour, he can barely budge the teetering mound, so his friend Seth Solomon, a Tybee Island firefighter, helps him hoist it into their boat, anchored just off the Georgia tributary.

“Growing up in Savannah, we’d come down here every winter and build a fire, roast oysters, and set out all kinds of sauces. It was this big event we’d look forward to all year long,” says Satterfield. “Now I get to share that with my closest friends.”

With two bushels in tow, Satterfield and Solomon race back to Solomon’s dock, now adorned with buoys and string lights for the night’s festivities. Tybee Island Social Club chef Kurtis Schumm is already busy building the firepit using granite cobblestones that once lined the downtown streets.

While Solomon cleans and shapes the oysters in a cement mixer, Satterfield flips over a fishing skiff and uses the bottom surface to prep a haul of produce from Canewater Farm—a purveyor beloved at his restaurant, Miller Union, in Atlanta’s Westside neighborhood.

With the fire kindled and more friends arriving to lend a hand, Satterfield takes a moment to change out of his mud-spattered clothes to focus on a pot of oyster stew already bubbling inside. Chef Mashama Bailey and her business partner, Johno Morisano, of The Grey restaurant in Savannah, take happy hour into their own hands, raiding the citrus trees surrounding Solomon’s property for a batch of whiskey sours made with fresh clementines and amaro.

“If you want a drink, you have to grab a shucking knife,” says Bailey as conversation resumes over a pile of newly polished oysters that have been dumped onto a picnic table. At the grill, Satterfield is doling out the first round of steamed half shells as a kind of briny amuse-bouche alongside johnnycakes, a salad of wood-fired carrots and turnips, and a variety of mignonettes.

At sunset, everyone gathers in Solomon’s dockside gazebo, helping themselves to steaming bowls of oyster stew and a buttermilk trifle made with two types of oranges. Popping a bottle of bubbly, Satterfield concedes that today was “far nicer than the oyster roasts of my youth. It was magical,” he says, raising a toast. “Here’s to new traditions.”

GRILLED OYSTERS, P. 99

TIME TO HARVEST

Satterfield starts the day by chiseling out dozens of oysters for the evening’s meal.

JOHNNYCAKES WITH LEEKS AND COLLARD GREENS, P. 99

ORANGE-BUTTERMILK TRIFLE, P. 102

A FEAST FOR FRIENDS

Chef Mashama Bailey brings the trifle to the table.

WOOD-FIRED ROOT VEGETABLES WITH CHARRED SCALLION AÏOLI, P. 100

Charred vegetables make a rustic salad.

OYSTER STEW, P. 101

Celery leaves top Oyster Stew.

CLEMENTINE WHISKEY SOUR, P. 99

Sun shines on citrusy cocktails.

(PROP STYLING: THOM DRIVER)

Clementine Whiskey Sour

ACTIVE 5 MIN. - TOTAL 5 MIN.

SERVES 1

6 Tbsp. (3 oz.) bourbon (such as Jim Beam)
2 Tbsp. fresh clementine juice (from 1 clementine)
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1 Tbsp. (½ oz.) Fernet-Branca
1 Tbsp. simple syrup
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
Clementine slices and leaves

Combine bourbon, clementine juice, lemon juice, Fernet-Branca, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until shaker feels very cold, 1 minute. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Finish with bitters; do not stir. Garnish with clementine slices and leaves.

Grilled Oysters

Unlike a traditional Lowcountry oyster roast (which requires cooking them under a layer of wet burlap on a large metal slab, usually with help from several people), this simplified version is much easier to pull off.

ACTIVE 40 MIN. - TOTAL 2 HOURS, 40 MIN.

SERVES 16

8 dozen oysters in the shell, scrubbed and dried

1. Place firewood and/or natural lump charcoal in base of grill, and ignite. Once fire has burned down and coals are glowing orange and white and have reached medium-high (400°F to 450°F), place 3 to 4 dozen oysters, cupped side down, on grill grate. Grill, covered, until oysters just begin to open at the wide end, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard any that do not open.

2. Use tongs to carefully transfer hot oysters to a serving platter, retaining as much liquid as possible. Let stand until cool enough to handle with a towel, 10 minutes. Using an oyster or paring knife, pry open oysters, discard top shells, and place on the half shell on the platter. Serve immediately. Repeat with remaining oysters.

Hot Pepper Vinegar

ACTIVE 5 MIN. - TOTAL 15 MIN., PLUS 8 HOURS CHILLING

MAKES ABOUT 2 CUPS

Place 6 halved, stemmed, and seeded jalapeño chiles in a medium bowl or jar. Whisk together 2 cups apple cider vinegar and 2 Tbsp. kosher salt in a small saucepan over medium. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat; immediately pour vinegar mixture over chiles. Let cool completely. Store, covered, in refrigerator at least 8 hours or overnight. (For best flavor, make several days in advance.) When ready to serve with oysters, thinly slice a few of the chiles, and place slices in a serving bowl. Add some of the vinegar, and stir in 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro before serving with oysters.

Meyer Lemon-Ginger Mignonette

ACTIVE 10 MIN. - TOTAL 10 MIN., PLUS 30 MIN. STANDING

MAKES ABOUT 2 CUPS

Combine ½ cup Champagne vinegar, 1 ½ Tbsp. fresh Meyer lemon zest and 6 Tbsp. juice (from 1 Meyer lemon), 1 minced shallot (about 6 Tbsp.), 2 Tbsp. peeled and minced fresh ginger (from a 1-inch piece), 1 tsp. black pepper, and ½ tsp. fine sea salt in a bowl. Stir well; let stand 30 minutes before serving with oysters.

Johnnycakes with Leeks and Collard Greens

ACTIVE 20 MIN. - TOTAL 20 MIN.

SERVES 8

½ cup whole milk
½ cup unsalted butter
2 cups fine cornmeal
1 cup baby collard greens or turnip greens, stemmed and thinly sliced
1 leek, trimmed and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 ½ cups boiling water
Whipped butter for serving

1. Combine milk and ½ cup unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted. Set aside.

2. Stir together cornmeal, greens, leek, and salt in a large heatproof bowl. Whisk in boiling water. Add warm milk-and-butter mixture. Whisk to combine.

3. Heat an ungreased cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium-high. Drop ¼ cup of the batter, per cake, onto hot surface. Cook until lightly browned and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip, and cook other side until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve hot with whipped butter.

HAPPY HOUR ON THE HALF SHELL

Everyone grabs a predinner drink and digs into a bounty of Grilled Oysters with condiments, such as Hot Pepper Vinegar.

Wood-Fired Root Vegetables with Charred Scallion Aïoli

ACTIVE 35 MIN. - TOTAL 35 MIN.

SERVES 12

VEGETABLES

2 bunches carrots (about 2 lb.)
2 bunches Hakurei turnips (about 2 lb.)
½ cup olive oil
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
¾ tsp. black pepper
Chopped parsley for topping

AÏOLI

1 bunch scallions (8 large)
3 garlic cloves, grated
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. lemon zest plus 3 Tbsp. fresh juice (from 1 lemon)
2 large egg yolks (pasteurized, if desired)
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¾ cup pure olive oil

1. Preheat a grill to medium-high (400°F to 450°F). Trim carrots and turnips, and rub dry with a kitchen towel. Remove and discard tops.

2. Toss together carrots, turnips, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Place carrots and turnips directly on grates of a hot grill. Grill, uncovered, turning often, until just tender, charring slightly, 7 to 8 minutes for carrots and 11 to 13 minutes for turnips. Remove from grill, and let cool completely.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the Aïoli: Char scallions on hot grill, 5 to 6 minutes; set aside to cool. Transfer scallions to a cutting board, and thinly slice crosswise.

4. Process sliced scallions, garlic, salt, lemon zest, and juice in a food processor until smooth. While machine is running, add egg yolks, processing until combined. Slowly drizzle olive oils into mixture, processing until it thickens and emulsifies. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as needed.

5. Slice carrots and turnips into bite-size pieces. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve with Aïoli.

Oyster Stew

ACTIVE 30 MIN. - TOTAL 40 MIN.

SERVES 6

2 dozen fresh shucked oysters in liquid
1 lb. russet potatoes, peeled, cut into ¼-inch pieces (about 2 ½ cups)
3 tsp. kosher salt, divided
8 collard stems, sliced crosswise into ¼-inch pieces
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, finely diced (about 2 cups)
3 celery stalks, finely diced (about 1 cup)
¼ cup all-purpose unbleached flour
½ lb. bacon, cut into ¼-inch pieces, and cooked, reserving bacon drippings
Freshly ground black pepper
⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
Roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley and celery leaves

1. Place a fine mesh strainer over a medium bowl, and drain oysters, reserving ⅓ cup oyster liquor.

2. Place potatoes and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a pot of water over high, and bring to a boil. Add collard stems. Boil 1 minute. Drain in a colander, and rinse under cold water.

3. Warm milk and cream in a medium saucepan over medium; cook until just beginning to boil. Remove from heat, and cover with a lid to keep warm.

4. Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium until foamy. Add onion, celery, potatoes, collard stems, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring often, until onion is tender and translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle flour over vegetable mixture, and cook, stirring often, until thickened, about 2 minutes.

5. Slowly whisk in warm milk and heavy cream. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring often to keep mixture from sticking. Stir reserved oyster liquor into Dutch oven, and cook until all vegetables are tender, about 2 minutes.

6. Warm reserved bacon drippings in a large skillet over medium. Add drained oysters in a single layer. Sprinkle with a few grinds of black pepper and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Cook just until oysters begin to curl around the edges. Immediately transfer oysters to Dutch oven; stir to combine. Remove from heat. Cover; let stand 10 minutes.

7. When ready to serve, ladle hot stew into bowls, and sprinkle each evenly with cayenne and a few grinds of black pepper. Top with cooked bacon, parsley, and celery leaves.

Orange-Buttermilk Trifle

ACTIVE 40 MIN. - TOTAL 40 MIN., PLUS 8 HOURS CHILLING

SERVES 12 TO 16

1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup cornstarch
½ tsp. kosher salt
4 large eggs
4 cups whole milk
½ cup unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup whole buttermilk
White Chocolate–Buttermilk Cake (recipe follows)
2 cups orange marmalade
4 blood oranges, zested, then peeled and cut into wedges, divided
4 navel oranges, peeled and cut into wedges
Whipped cream for topping

1. Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and eggs in a medium bowl until smooth, and set aside. Bring milk to a low boil in a medium-size heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium; remove from heat.

2. Temper eggs by slowly whisking one-third of the hot milk into sugar mixture until combined. Slowly add tempered egg mixture back to saucepan with hot milk, and whisk to combine. Cook over medium-low, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened and just begins to bubble, 12 to 15 minutes.

3. Remove from heat; whisk in butter and vanilla. Transfer to a large bowl; place plastic wrap directly on warm custard to keep a film from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 8 hours.

4. Whisk together chilled custard and buttermilk until smooth. Set aside.

5. Cut White Chocolate-Buttermilk Cake into 1 ½-inch pieces, and arrange half of the cake pieces in bottom of an 18- to 20-cup serving dish. Spread half of the marmalade over cake pieces. Spoon half of the custard (about 3 cups) over marmalade. Layer sliced oranges in alternating colors tightly across top of custard. Repeat layers twice. Top with whipped cream; sprinkle with blood orange zest.

White Chocolate–Buttermilk Cake

ACTIVE 20 MIN. - TOTAL 1 HOUR, PLUS 1 HOUR COOLING

MAKES 1 CAKE

2 cups bleached cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. fine sea salt
2 oz. white chocolate
¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar, divided
4 large eggs, separated
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup whole buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

2. Place white chocolate in a microwavable bowl, and microwave on 50% power until melted, 1 to 1 ½ minutes, stirring every 30 seconds; set aside.

3. Beat together butter and 1 ½ cups of the sugar in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add melted white chocolate to butter mixture; beat on medium speed until incorporated.

4. With mixer on low speed, add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating just until incorporated after each addition; add vanilla extract. Add flour mixture to egg yolk mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

5. Whisk egg whites in a separate bowl until frothy. Gradually add remaining ¼ cup sugar, whisking until meringue is stiff but glossy. Gently fold meringue mixture into batter until incorporated. Transfer cake batter to a heavily greased and floured 13- x 9-inch cake pan. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool cake completely on a wire rack before removing from pan, about 1 hour.