July 20, 2024


Food & Travel Enthusiast

Recipe: Oysters and Grits in Bourbon Brown Butter

Recipe: Oysters and Grits in Bourbon Brown Butter

“Shrimp and grits is one of the iconic dishes of the South,” says chef Edward Lee. Here, he puts a delicious spin on it with his recipe for oysters and grits in bourbon brown butter. “The flavor of bourbon and the flavor of the oysters is a pairing that really works nice together,” explains Lee, a celebrated chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author based in Louisville, Kentucky. The recipe, which Lee teaches in his class for YesChef, a subscription-based streaming platform offering cinematic cooking classes taught by world-renowned chefs, has a simplicity that its name belies: It uses only a few ingredients and comes together easily. And to cut down on cooking time, the grits are first soaked overnight, which allows them to be prepared in the time it takes to make the recipe’s other components.

Because there are such few ingredients, each one is the star: the creamy grits, made with only some chicken stock and butter; the bourbon brown butter, which showcases what Lee describes as bourbon’s “perfect mix of sweetness and smokiness”; and the oysters, which are briefly poached in the brown butter, leaving their insides creamy.

While the pairing of bourbon and oysters may sound fancy, “bourbon’s history has always been sort of a working man’s history,” Lee points out, and oysters were once considered to be a cheap, widely accessible food. Pairing this “historically sort of blue-collar food with this blue-collar drink,” he says, works not only in terms of flavor profile, but also culturally. Finished with a splash of hot vinegar to cut its richness, the dish is a testament to the ever-evolving beauty of Southern cooking. — Eater staff

Oysters and Grits in Bourbon Brown Butter Recipe

Serves 4


For the creamy grits:

1 cup dried corn grits, stone-ground
Cold water
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
Salt to taste
Dill to garnish
Chives to garnish

For the bourbon brown butter:

½ cup butter (1 stick)
½ cup bourbon
1 pinch salt
½ teaspoon lemon

For the hot vinegar:

1 jalapeño pepper, sliced thickly
3 Thai bird chilis, sliced
3 star anises
3-inch ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 liter rice vinegar (you can substitute with champagne vinegar or apple cider vinegar)

For the oysters:

5 oysters


For the grits:

Step 1: Transfer the dried grits to a bowl and cover with cold water and let soak overnight or for 8 hours.

Step 2: Strain and retain a little of the starchy water from the grits.

Step 3: Move the grits to a medium pan and add the chicken stock.

Step 4: Cook over medium heat for approximately 40 minutes while frequently stirring and tasting for even cooking.

Step 5: Add a little water or stock as needed.

Step 6: Once cooked, sprinkle salt, add butter, stir, and set aside.

Step 7: Vigorously stir the grits until extra creamy and serve in a bowl with a small dollop of butter.

For the bourbon brown butter:

Step 1: Heat a cast-iron pan over medium heat and melt the butter.

Step 2: Let it cook until it’s deep brown and smells toasted.

Step 3: Turn the heat off and let it cool for 1 to 2 minutes.

Step 4: Slowly add a little bourbon at a time to the browned butter.

Step 5: Allow the alcohol to burn off and evaporate the water.

Step 6: Add salt to bourbon brown butter and finish with lemon juice.

For the hot vinegar:

Step 1: Add the jalapeño pepper, Thai bird chilis, star anises, and ginger into a jar.

Step 2: Pour the rice vinegar, shake, and let it marinate for at least a week at room temperature or up to 1 month in a refrigerator.

For shucking the oysters:

Step 1: Prepare the oysters and wrap them in a towel with the cup side down and hinge end peakingout.

Step 2: Press the tip of an oyster knife into the hinge and apply pressure.

Step 3: Once the knife is in, twist it until the top pops open.

Step 4: Run the oyster knife along the top edge of the shell and cut through the attaching muscle.

Step 5: Gently scrape the oysters into a bowl, reserving all liquids.

For poaching the oysters:

Step 1: Warm the bourbon brown butter over medium-low heat and add and gently poach the oysters.

For plating the finished dish:

Step 1: Vigorously stir the grits until creamy and serve.

Step 2: Top the creamy grits with poached oysters and drizzle bourbon brown butter over it.

Step 3 (optional): Use a spoon to round your dish with a small amount of hot vinegar.

Step 4: Garnish with fresh dills and chives.