Sunday, November 11, 2012

Oyster Breakfast of Champions

For our tailgate last week we wanted to include some Rappahannock oysters, so I did the only logical thing to do when porta johns are the only available facility for the next 8 hours. I made spiced double alcohol raw oyster shooters.

It started classy and stuff with Patrick O’Connell‘s pickled cranberries.

It’s not the blog… I always cook my food and then take it to the back deck to photograph it. The neighbors don’t find it strange at all.

These cranberries are versatile and great with oysters. I love bubbles so I decided to combine that much. Then, to make it a breakfast that would go the distance, I added some candied jalapeño and, well, vodka. What could go wrong? Down the hatch baby. It was a good way to warm up on a crispy fall morning in the middle of a field in the middle of Virginia after getting up at 4:30 am to bake bagel bombs, whip cream and sear bananas. Here, in the middle of the tailgate, the cranberries and vodka are in shot glasses awaiting the chile, oyster and bubbles.

And here is a reenactment of the whole shooter set-up, because somehow I din’t manage a picture of the finished shooter at the actual tailgate. I’m not a photojournalist, especially after a morning cocktail and during judging.

Sip the first third to half of it of it, then shoot the rest. Check toes for feeling, sniff country air, wonder what type of mental illness drives you to cook as though Tom Colicchio will be walking up with $100k check for a remote tailgate contest. Take a bite of a bagel bomb, rinse and repeat until you’ve lost recall of mental illness and nonexistent check.


This sounds like a lot of prep, but it’s so easy and quick. First make your pickled cranberries and you can preserve them or just keep in the fridge for several months. Same deal with candying the jalapeños…

They will hold for weeks in the fridge (and probably out of the fridge, but try that at your own peril and/or add extra vodka to shots for disinfecting and medicinal purposes).


Pickled Cranberry and Sparkling Oyster Shooters

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Prepare cranberries and jalapeños ahead of time and then make shooters and a variety of cocktails various for weeks.


1 (12 oz) bag fresh cranberries, washed and picked over
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider
1/2 cup water
5 whole cloves
1/4 tsp whole allspice
1/4 tsp black peppercorns
1 whole cinnamon stick
1 tsp peeled and roughly chopped fresh ginger root

2 jalapeños, thinly sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

sparkling wine
oysters, freshly shucked


For cranberries:
- combine all ingredients in a 4-quart saucepan and bring to a rolling boil
- remove from heat and allow to cool
- fill glass jars and seal, or transfer to other container or tupperware and keep in the refrigerator

For jalapeños:
- heat oven to 300 degrees
- combine water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved
- add jalapeño slices to syrup and cook for 1 - 2 minutes
- using a fork remove jalapeño slices to a sheet tray lined with parchment, making sure they're spaced out
- drop into oven and cook until dehydrated

To make shooter:
- get a juice glass and drop in 1 or 2 cranberries with a little syrup
- open sparkling wine and pour some into juice glass to test
- in the meantime, or much later... line up shot glasses or mini martinis and add a cranberry plus a little cranberry syrup to each, then add some vodka
- when folks are ready, add an oyster, a piece of candied jalapeño, and some sparkling wine
- advise people to sip a little before shooting as the initial sipping of everything together is very nice and then the shooting is a bit easier afterwards

Pickled cranberry recipe is from Refined American Cuisine by Patrick O'Connell, Chef/Owner of The Inn at Little Washington.

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