The Recipe: Oysters and Grits in Bourbon Brown Butter

“Shrimp and grits are one of the most popular dishes in the South,” says Chef Edward Lee. Here, he puts a savory taste on it with his recipe for oysters and grits in brown bourbon butter. “Bourbon flavor and oyster flavor are a combination that works really nice,” explains Lee, a celebrity chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author based in Louisville, Kentucky. The recipe, which Lee teaches in his class for YesChef, a subscription-based streaming platform that offers cinematic cooking classes taught by world-renowned chefs, is as simple as its name: It uses just a few ingredients and comes together easily. To cut down on cooking time, the granules are first soaked overnight, allowing them to set in the time it takes to prepare the other ingredients for the recipe.

With so few ingredients, each ingredient is the star: creamy grits, made with just some chicken broth and butter; brown bourbon butter, which showcases what Lee describes as “the perfect blend of sweetness and smoky”; And oysters, which are briefly boiled in brown butter, leaving a creamy inside.

While the pairing of bourbon and oysters may sound fanciful, Lee notes that “bourbon history has always been a kind of working man’s history,” and oysters were once viewed as a cheap and widely accessible food. Pairing this “historic kind of blue-collar food with a blue-collar drink,” he says, works not only in terms of flavor, but also culturally. The dish is finished with a sprinkling of hot vinegar to diminish its richness, a testament to the beauty of ever-evolving Southern cooking. – eater staff

Oysters and grits in a Bourbon Brown Butter recipe

Serves 4


For creamy granules:

1 cup stone-ground dried corn kernels
Cold water
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter
salt to taste
dill for garnish
chives for garnish

To make the Bourbon Brown Butter:

½ cup butter (1 piece)
¼ cup of bourbon
pinch of salt
Half a teaspoon of lemon

To prepare the hot vinegar:

1 jalapeno pepper, cut into thick slices
3 Thai Chili’s, cut into strips
Anise 3 stars
3 inches ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 liter rice vinegar (you can substitute it with champagne vinegar or apple cider vinegar)

For oysters:

5 oysters


For granules:

Step 1: Transfer the dried granules to a bowl, cover them with cold water, and let them soak overnight or for 8 hours.

Step 2: Strain and reserve some of the starchy water from the granules.

Step 3: Transfer the granules to a medium skillet and add the chicken broth.

The fourth step: Cook over medium heat for about 40 minutes, stirring and tasting frequently for even cooking.

Fifth step: Add a little water or stock as needed.

Sixth step: Once cooked, sprinkle with salt, add butter, stir and set aside.

Seventh step: Stir the grits vigorously until it becomes more creamy and serve in a bowl with a little butter.

To make the Bourbon Brown Butter:

Step 1: Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and melt the butter.

Step 2: Let it cook until it is dark brown and smells toasty.

Step 3: Turn off the heat and let it cool for one to two minutes.

The fourth step: Slowly add a little bourbon at a time to the browned butter.

Fifth step: Let the alcohol burn and the water evaporates.

Sixth step: Add salt to brown bourbon butter and finish with lemon juice.

To prepare the hot vinegar:

Step 1: Add jalapeño peppers, Thai bird pepper, star anise, and ginger to a bowl.

Step 2: Pour in the rice vinegar, shake, and leave for at least a week at room temperature or up to a month in the refrigerator.

For oyster shells:

Step 1: Prepare the oysters and wrap them in a towel with the cup side down and the hinge end pointing at the apex.

Step 2: Press the tip of the oyster knife into the hinge and apply pressure.

Step 3: Once the knife is inserted, twist it so that the top opens.

The fourth step: Run an oyster knife along the top edge of the shell and cut through the attached muscle.

Fifth step: Gently scrape the oysters into a bowl, reserving all liquid.

To boil oysters:

Step 1: Heat the brown bourbon butter over medium-low heat, add the oysters and simmer gently.

To paint the final dish:

Step 1: Stir vigorously until creamy and serve.

Step 2: Put the boiled oysters on the cream granules and sprinkle with brown bourbon butter.

Third step (optional): Use a spoon to stir the dish with a small amount of hot vinegar.

The fourth step: Garnish with fresh dill and chives.

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