Every city has its own signature way of bringing friends and family together and celebrating life in general. In Memphis, you're sure to run into a few backyard barbecues, New Orleans is home to the crawfish boil, and Charleston throws one hell of an oyster roast. Having a roast is the perfect end to a well spent day out on the marsh or trail. You can relax, eat delicious food, and reflect on the day's adventures.
The frigid temperatures we're experiencing in Charleston right now—and by frigid I mean 40 degrees—is no excuse to go into hibernation mode. If anything, it's an excuse to build a huge bonfire, gather round with friends and beers in hand, and roast a bunch of oysters. The secret to the perfect oyster roast is learning about the process, and RootsRated is about to take you to school.
Oysters are messy. They spend their lives in mud—not just regular mud—the single most rancid type of mud you'll ever have the misfortune of dealing with: pluff mud. That being said, you need to have everything set up to properly clean, shuck, and dispose of the oysters before you start celebrating.
First, hose those bivalves down. Get them nice and clean before you steam them up. Next you'll need to set up your table. The most effective table is a full sheet of plywood with two dinner plate sized holes cut near both ends. Place the holes over two trash cans, and you've got yourself a state of the art shucking table. (You'll be very happy you took the time to do this when it's time to shuck.) A table that cleans up after itself is as good as it gets.
Once you've got your table set up, you're ready to build the grill.
Let the Roasting Begin
Roasting oysters can be as complicated as you want it to be, but it is really quite simple. A bushel of oysters is about enough for 4 people, so use that to determine how many bushels you'll need. Place a sheet of iron over four cinder blocks, and light a fire under it. Put your clean oysters on the iron grill, and place a saltwater-soaked burlap sack over the oysters to steam them. The water-soaked sack will steam the oysters without bursting into flame. After about 5 minutes, some of the oysters will open up a little bit, and when a few of them do, its time to take them off and get to shuckin'.
Eat, Drink, and be Merry
Now's the time you've been waiting for. Grab a few oyster knives, beer, a little Texas Pete, and some Saltines, kick back, and enjoy your hard earned oysters. It may be that the reason they're so delicious is that the best oysters in the world come from our own backyard, but it's also the ritual that gives us that satisfaction of shucking open an oyster. You don't need a reason to host one; all you need is a couple of buddies and an afternoon to reminisce about stories from out the trail. Oh, and there's no better time to plan the next big adventure.