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Green garlic butter with parsley brings spring to oysters

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My grilled oysters with green garlic butter dish looks as green and springy as your backyard at this time of year.

You may be familiar with the flavours in this butter from the classic french escargots a la bourguignonne. And, if I was a betting woman, I’d be willing to bet that 90 per cent of folks who love snails love this dish because of the rich green garlicky butter. That’s definitely my fascination with it. But this butter isn’t just for escargots ‚Äî it makes amazing grilled oysters and the ultimate garlic bread.

If you are digging your own oysters, you may still want to heed the no “R’’ months advice of not eating oysters during the months of May through August, those months without an “R’’ in the name.

But if you are buying oysters from a fish store or the grocery store, you can feel free to eat oysters all year long as they are more than likely being commercially raised and they are safe. In fact, my favourite time of year to eat grilled oysters is spring and early summer.

I like to grill oysters on the half shell which makes for both a pretty presentation and failsafe cooking. The tough shell protects the delicate oysters from the hot fire, tempering the heat and transferring it through the shell. The oyster simmers in its own juices mixed with the cooking liquid from a marinade, sauce or compound butter. This is just the right temperature, and will not result in overcooked, rubbery oysters unless you leave them on the grill too long.

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GRILLED OYSTERS WITH GREEN GARLIC BUTTER

Servings: 4 appetizer-sized portions

Start to finish: 15 minutes

1 dozen shucked oysters

Green Garlicky Butter (see recipe below)

Hot Sauce for serving

Lemon wedges for serving

Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for medium direct heat.

Line a sheet pan with the bottom oyster shells from the shucked oysters. Top each oyster with a generous spoonful of the oyster liquor (liquid that the oysters are packed in) and the green garlic butter.

Place oysters directly on the cooking grates. Cover the grill and cook until butter is melted and liquid is bubbling, about 2-3 minutes. You can tell if the oysters are cooked if they are opaque and puffed up. The edges will also stand out slightly.

Transfer to a serving platter lined with kosher salt and serve immediately with lemon wedges and favourite hot sauce, if desired.

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GREEN GARLIC BUTTER (a.k.a. ESCARGOT BUTTER)

Grating garlic with a microplane provides a garlic paste that is more easily mixed into the butter.

1 stick unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated

1 small shallot, grated

1/2 teaspoon granulated or dehydrated garlic

2-4 teaspoons dry white wine, such as a French Burgundy or French-style Chardonnay, depending on taste

1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or more to taste)

Mash or stir butter until it is smooth and slightly fluffy. Add parsley, garlic, shallot and dehydrated garlic. Mix together, mashing with the back of a fork to make sure all the ingredients are incorporated. Add wine and salt. Mix until smooth and fully incorporated. Taste for seasoning. Add more salt if needed.

On a piece of parchment or plastic wrap, drop butter in spoonsful to form a log. Roll butter in plastic wrap and smooth out to form a round log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Refrigerate until firm and easy to cut into pieces. Can be made in advance and stored tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to a week and in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Chef’s note: When I make this for the grilled oyster recipe above, I drop generous and equal spoonsful of the soft butter on a piece of parchment paper and place it in the freezer to harden. This way, the butter is already portioned out for each oyster. You can do this in advance and place the individual butter patties in a resealable plastic bag in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

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