Local Oyster Bounty Abounds

Oyster roasts may be stymied this year, but the spirit remains

BY Peter Viele

WBM file photo.
WBM file photo.

For many locals, the thought of late fall and early winter months evokes a fondness for huddling around makeshift plywood tables, cheap crackers, hot sauce and roaring fires. Oh yes, and of course seasonally fresh, delicate, succulent and delicious local oysters.

Mid to late November is usually the time for countless backyard and even corporately sanctioned oyster roasts. It’s a time-honored tradition, a rite of passage and a beloved aspect of fall in coastal North Carolina. For some, it’s more than just the oysters themselves — it’s about that precious time of connecting with loved ones and neighbors while enjoying life together.

In the age of the pandemic, these types of communal gatherings have been crossed out on many calendars. Some oyster roasts will invariably continue this year, but for those opting out, celebrating the local oyster can be done in a myriad of formats.

With a bounty of oyster beds surrounding the waters in the Wrightsville Beach area, families can eat locally and support local businesses, while getting a little creative in the kitchen or backyard. The classically steamed oyster is always a must, but here are a few other ways to enjoy this local delicacy.

Oysters Rockefeller

Servings: 6


  • 2 dozen fresh oysters in the half shell
  • 4 cups of rock salt
  • 4 bacon slices, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup shallots, minced
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, sliced into ribbons
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup Pernod absinthe
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup green onions, finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped


Create a 1/2-inch layer of rock salt in two large baking pans. Fry the bacon until crisp, remove and reserve the fat in the skillet. Add the butter, garlic and shallots and cook on medium-high heat, stirring constantly for 4 minutes. Remove half of butter mixture, placing in a medium bowl. Add breadcrumbs, Parmesan, green onions and parsley and toss until evenly coated. Deglaze remaining butter mixture in skillet with absinthe and then add the lemon juice and spinach, cooking until spinach lightly wilts. Add salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Preheat the broiler with oven rack 6 inches from heat. Arrange oysters on salt in prepared pans. Top with the spinach mixture, followed by breadcrumb mixture. Broil 4 to 6 minutes or until lightly browned.

Grilled Oyster Po’Boys

Servings: 6


  • 2 dozen fresh oysters on the half-shell
  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce
  • 2 freshly baked baguettes
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • 1 tomato, thinly sliced

For the Cajun mayonnaise:

  • 1/2-3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 TBSP Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon


Blend butter, Parmesan, parsley, garlic, Worcestershire, paprika, red pepper flakes and hot sauce in a food processor. Spoon the mixture onto half-shell oysters. Gently blend the Cajun mayonnaise ingredients together in a bowl and refrigerate. Arrange oysters on a grill heated to 450 degrees and cook uncovered for 7 to 8 minutes, or until edges curl. Slice the two baguettes into three 6-inch loaves and then slice them in the middle. Generously spread the bread openings with the Cajun mayo, add a pinch of shredded lettuce and a slice of tomato. Add the grilled oysters, approximately four for each sandwich.

Fried Buffalo Oysters

Servings: 6


  • 2 dozen fresh oysters, shucked
  • 6 cups peanut oil
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 TBSP garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt


  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 TBSP Frank’s Red Hot

Buffalo Sauce:

  • 3/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 2 TBSP white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder


  • 1 cup blue cheese dressing
  • 2 large carrots, julienned
  • 2 celery sticks, julienned


Shuck oysters and clean by rinsing them in cold water. Place oysters in large bowl and cover with buttermilk marinade. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Prepare dredge by mixing the flours, corn starch, cornmeal, garlic and onion powder, pepper, and sea salt in a large bowl and set aside. Prepare Buffalo sauce by melting butter and whisking remaining ingredients together in a large bowl. Add peanut oil to a Fry-Daddy, or large pan or pot (enough space to ensure the oysters are submerged for deep frying). Heat oil to 360 degrees. Remove oysters from marinade and dredge into flour mixture. Deep-fry oysters for approximately 4 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown. Remove from heat and place on paper towel-lined sheet pan. Toss oysters with Buffalo sauce in the large bowl. Serve immediately, garnished with blue cheese dressing and celery and carrot sticks.

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