Three tips for serving a beautiful, meat-garnished oyster spread from Chris Cosentino.
At Jackrabbit in Portland, Chris Cosentino centers meat. Yet the chef, who is known for his inspired and extensive use of animal parts, gives seafood its due, too. Guests at the restaurant, located inside the , can begin their meals, with a number of Jackrabbit's signature bateau, which serve "shells and meat," before enjoying buttermilk fried rabbit or a giant steak. The platters resemble raw towers, but present both seafood and charcuterie together in one extravagant vehicle. Because why should the notion of surf and turf be limited to entrées, or to the same handful of proteins and shellfish?
"The idea of shellfish and meat is as old as time, whether it’s a Portuguese dish or an Italian dish," says Cosentino, who opened in 2017. "The mixture of pork and shellfish is a classic. Most of the time those dishes are served hot, but looking at oysters in England, for example, they serve oysters with chilis, sausages and warm brown bread, so I decided to take it a step further."
The bateau-like presentation is easily recreatable at home, provided you can find oysters, clams, and beautiful charcuterie. (Alternatively, you could just fly to Portland, which we always suggest.) We chatted with Cosentino about choosing the perfect oysters and garnishes for a show-stopping platter.
Mix up the accoutrement.
Consider tomatillo salsa for oysters—it's one of his favorites. Or even mix up the citrus; Cosentino prefers lime to lemon on his oysters. "They bring out a different flavor that you can’t get from lemons," he says.
Choose oysters with care.
The Pacific Northwest is an excellent place to start.
"One of my favorites is the Olympia," he says. "They are small and sweet. The Quilcene is a real favorite—a beach oyster that became popular due to its flavor that started as a high school science project that became a regularly requested oyster."
Other picks include Hama Hama oysters and his all-time favorite, the Shoal Bay Flat, a super-rich European oyster known as "the Melon."
Get creative with the mignonette.
"I also like a negroni mignonette for my oysters," he says. "It’s a balance of delicious, bitter-sweet, and citrus from the orange."