Grilled Oysters with Smoked Ham and Fried Parsley
Plump oysters are topped with chopped ham and seasoned with a compound butter that includes a touch of fennel. Cooking them in a covered charcoal grill adds a wonderful smoky taste. They are served on beds of flash-fried parsley.
- Lemons - 2
- Oysters - 12
- Soft unsalted butter - 8 ounces
- Shallots - 2 medium, minced
- Parsley - 2 tablespoons, chopped
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Fennel Seeds - 1 tablespoon, cracked
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
- Smoked Ham - 2 ounces, diced
- Fresh Parsley - 2 bunches
- Oil for deep frying
Prepare the lemons as garnishes: using a sharp knife, cut into the lemon at the waist just to the center in a sawtooth design all the way around. Be sure to cut just to the center each time. Separate the halves; each will have a sawtooth shape. Put in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in the refrigerator.
Scrub and open the oysters, leaving them on the half-shell. Rinse the oysters if desired. Set aside.
Light a fire in a charcoal grill which has a lid. In a mixing bowl, whip together the butter, shallots, chopped parsley, lemon juice, and fennel seed to make a compound butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top each oyster with a pinch of smoked ham and a dollop of compound butter according to the size of the oyster. When the coals are hot, place the oysters on the grill. Cover and cook until the butter is bubbling and the oysters start to curl at the edge, 3 to 4 minutes.
Cut the longer, thicker parts of the stem off the parsley. Thoroughly wash and dry the parsley. Heat the oil to 350 F in a deep fryer. Plunge the parsley into the hot oil and flash-fry for 20 to 30 seconds, until just crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Do not crowd the fryer; fry in batches if necessary, letting the oil return to temperature between each batch.
Put a lemon half, points up, in the center of each plate. Place a bed of fried parsley around the lemon on each serving plate. Arrange 3 oysters in a radial pattern around each plate, centering on the lemon.