Around the Table with Tommy Waller and The Oyster Bed
A couple of weeks ago, Tommy Waller joined us around the table to talk about oysters and a new product he and his brother Adam created called The Oyster Bed.
Oysters are a treasured seafood delicacy here in south Louisiana, and they are featured in many family holiday dishes. Some families prefer to eat them raw, whereas others prefer them grilled, broiled or “fancied-up” in one of the classic oyster dishes: Oysters Rockefeller or Oysters Bienville. And Oyster Dressing is a typical side dish on many Thanksgiving and Christmas tables.
We have our own family Christmas tradition that features oysters, and I am including our recipe for grilled or broiled oysters below.
Adam and Tommy Waller are all about family. Growing up in south Louisiana and practicing their Catholic faith, the Waller brothers enjoyed the many blessings that come while being together with family around the table. One of their family traditions was to get together and go through a sack or two of oysters whenever a new deployment was scheduled for Tommy who serves in the military.
Recently, at one such gathering, their mother issued them a challenge. Out of that challenge and their experience around the table sprang an idea for a new culinary tool: the Oyster Bed. As they brainstormed the idea, and prayed about it, the scope of the idea kept getting bigger. They saw that it wasn’t just a cooking tool. It was that, and so much more. It was a way to inspire families to spend time together around the table. It was also a way to foster the sustainability of the oyster reefs in the Gulf of Mexico and help to stem the coastal erosion of Louisiana.
The Wallers felt that the idea was being blessed by God. Doors were opened, connections were made. And in a relatively short amount of time the Oyster Bed was a reality. They stepped out in faith and contracted with Wilton Armetale to begin production, launching a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the production.
Within just a couple of months, The Oyster Bed Kickstarter campaign became Louisiana’s largest funded product to date. The campaign was a huge success!
Tommy joined us on the Around the Table food show on a couple of weeks ago to talk oysters, family traditions, and ways to help sustain oysters in the Gulf of Mexico while helping to save our Louisiana coastline at the same time. He also brought to the table a few ideas for other things you can cook on the Oyster Bed. You can listen to the show below, and you can also visit Tommy and Adam at TheOysterBed.com.
LISTEN TO THE SHOW
To listen, click on the Play button below. The show is also available on iTunes.
Oysters & Christmas in Lousiana
Our Christmas seafood celebrations always culminate just a day or two after Christmas with a visit from my son’s godfather, “Big D” and a sack of oysters. Some of the oysters we eat raw, but many of them we “grill” according to a knock-off recipe of Drago’s famous char-grilled oysters.
They make a great appetizer. And if you don’t have a grill, no worries! You can also make this dish in the oven.
In the past we have used oyster shells on the grill, or muffin pans on the grill, and we have even used a stoneware muffin pan in the oven. But we don’t have to scrounge around anymore trying to find something to cook those oysters in. Now we have an Oyster Bed, which make it so easy!
Below are the directions for preparing these oysters in an oven.
Char-Broiled Oysters Recipe
- 4 sticks of butter
- 4 or 5 cloves of garlic, minced (or crushed & beaten in a mortar & pestle)
- Raw oysters – Lots of ‘em. You can get them un-schucked in a sack, or shucked in a bucket filled with oyster liquor. How many? Well, that’s up to you. The more you get, though, the more of the other ingredients you need to have on hand.
- Fresh ground black pepper – to taste
- Tabasco or Crystal Hot Sauce – to taste
- About ¼ to ½ cup of Parmesan Cheese (we love lots on our oysters!)
- ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
- An Oyster Bed (either the large or small)
- In a small saucepan, melt a stick of butter at low heat. Add generous amounts of the following: fresh chopped garlic, Louisiana Hot Sauce, fresh lemon juice, and green onions (the green onions act as “flavor catchers” in this intensely poignant sauce!). Bring up the heat a bit to a simmer. Add a splash or two of whatever (good) beer you may have open. Beer pairs so well with Louisiana oysters! This sauce says, “WOW!” Adjust to your liking. Just remember that it should zing!
- Preheat oven to about 450.
- Add sauce to each compartments of the Oyster Bed. Add an oyster to each compartment. Top with grated hard cheese (Romano or Parmesan) and a touch of chopped parsley for looks. Cook at 450 until the cheese is bubbly.
Dive in as soon as the oysters come out of the oven. We arm ourselves with bamboo skewers. Attack and repeat.
It’s also good to have some good, light French bread on hand. You won’t want to leave a drop of the sauce behind. The French bread is good at sopping up every drop of deliciousness. Every. Single. Drop.
Christmas Family Culinary Traditions
Do you have a special dish that you prepare with your family each year at Christmas?
I’d love to hear about it! Leave me a comment below!