Quick Bite: Haute Oyster
Chef Nate Whiting shares a decadent on-the-half-shell recipe
“My approach to fine dining is simple purity,” says chef Nate Whiting. “I’m not an artist; at most, I enhance.” The much too modest executive chef at Tristan has gained acclaim since taking the helm of the restaurant in 2009, quietly wowing guests with his elegant fare. And perhaps nowhere is his meticulous approach more apparent than in his poached oyster recipe.
With oyster season officially kicking off September 15, this dish, featuring truffle oil and anchovies, is a great way to get your half-shell fix while the weather is still too hot for a roast.
To begin, the chef suggests giving his recipe a thorough read. “I like to review a recipe three or four times before I even start cooking to make sure I understand everything,” says the Johnson & Wales grad. Shuck two dozen oysters, saving the juice. Then “scrape the shells and run them through the dishwasher twice to get a clean shell for serving,” he says.
For Whiting, the end goal is to elevate the star component, and to do so he encourages home cooks to use the best supporting ingredients. “Buy a European butter with higher milk fat content, such as Plugra, to add flavor to your emulsion,” he suggests. As for the truffle oil (available online), that’s optional. “I only use Italy’s Savitar brand because it’s made from real truffles, not chemical perfumes.” To execute the dish, Whiting says, don’t skip any steps. His advice? “Focus on the journey, not the end result. If you let the details accumulate, you’ll get where you want to be.” Destination: delicious.
24 oysters, juice reserved
3 Tbs. Plugra butter
1 Tbs. white truffle oil, optional
1 Tbs. finely minced shallot
1/8 tsp. finely minced garlic
1 fresh bay leaf
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Zest of 1/2 lemon, finely minced
3 Tbs. anchovies, finely chopped
3 Tbs. lemon juice
3 Tbs. black truffle, chopped
Shuck oysters, separating meat into one bowl and juices into another. In a heavy-bottom pot over medium heat, melt one tablespoon each of butter and truffle oil. Add shallot and garlic. Sweat until tender. Add next four ingredients. Sweat mixture for three minutes.
Add lemon and oyster juices and reduce liquid until almost dry. Remove from heat and whisk in remaining butter. Pass liquid through a sieve, pour into a small heavy-bottom pot, and heat to 135°F. Add truffle and oysters. Poach for 10 minutes. Place oysters into shells and spoon liquid onto each.