Haute Camping: Easy Rosemary-Smoked Oysters

Grilling is fun because, well, you get to play with fire. And in this case, you also get to play with smoke. I admit that oysters are not exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you think of camping recipes. But if you have a cooler, why not? This recipe requires just three ingredients and an active cooking time of less than ten minutes. It's everything a great camping recipe should be: simple and delicious.

The rosemary in this recipe is wonderfully pragmatic and serves as a multitasking jack-of-all-trades: It creates a stable surface for grilling the oysters, it prevents the shells from burning and it flavors the oysters as it slowly chars.

This recipe yields oysters that are just lightly warmed through, still bright and briny, with just a touch of smoke and herbaceous flavor. Perhaps the best part? No shucking required.

You can do this on a gas grill, but for the best flavor I highly recommend a charcoal grill using natural wood charcoal.

Haute Camping: Easy Rosemary-Smoked Oysters
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dozen oysters
  • 1 dozen oysters
  • 2 large bunches fresh rosemary
  • 1 lemon
  1. Soak rosemary in water for at least 20 minutes and up to an hour. A Ziploc bag or plastic container both work well. The idea is to wet the rosemary but not completely saturate it. If the rosemary isn’t wet enough when it hits the grill, it will be completely incinerated. But if it’s too wet, it will smolder but not really burn. Meanwhile, heat your coals in a chimney starter, then transfer them to the grill when they’re glowing red.
  2. Remove rosemary from water bath and shake to remove excess water. Place rosemary on hot grill to create a bed. Place oysters directly on top and distribute them evenly (don’t place one oyster on top of another oyster). Make sure to place oysters flat side up, round side down.
  3. Place metal bowl directly on top of oysters and then close the grill lid. If you are using a charcoal grill, make sure the lid’s vent is open. The metal bowl will help maximize the oysters’ exposure to the rosemary smoke, but if you don’t have a bowl, don’t worry — they will still be delicious.
  4. Cook until oysters open slightly, transferring each one to a serving plate as it is done. Cooking time will vary, depending on size of oysters and heat of grill. My first oysters opened after 4 minutes and my last oyster came off the grill at the 8-minute mark.
  5. Pry oysters open using your hands or a knife (careful — they will be hot!). Try to keep oysters as steady as possible so as not to spill the oyster liquor. Garnish with a little freshly squeezed lemon juice and serve immediately!
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