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The Weekend Chef

Weekend Chef: Pigs, oysters and fire!

Posted 11:09pm on Friday, May. 03, 2013

Chef Tim Byres, chef and co-owner of Smoke in Dallas, proved at this year's Austin Food & Wine Festival the he is a master of all things fire and smoke. Last year, Chef Byres fire-roasted three suckling pigs at the Taste of Texas Kickoff and was the hit of that night. This year, Chef Byres was again the big hit of the kickoff, this time fixing 1,500 fire-roasted oysters over 50-gallon drums. Fire-roasted oysters are one of the recipes out of his new cookbook Smoke: New Firewood Cooking (Rizzoli, $40) that he previewed at the festival with a book signing.

But what about the pigs? Never fear, Chef Byres again roasted pigs; this time it was an all-day event Saturday at the Fire Pit set up smack in the middle of the festival field. The roasting started at 4 in the morning to give them at least 6 hours to cook before serving.

Check out the slide show above to see all the pigs, oysters and fire that Chef Byres prepared at the fest. Chef Byres also shared his Fire-Roasted Oysters recipe from his new cookbook.

Fire-Roasted Oysters Serves 20

I learned how to make these by watching people grill oysters over a 50-gallon drum in Galveston. Served with scampi butter, chorizo crumbs, and Ash Salsa, these oysters are great for big parties. You can shuck the oysters a couple hours in advance and leave them nestled in their shells so they stay upright, covered, in the refrigerator. This recipe can also easily be halved for a smaller group.

Scampi Butter

  • 20 guajillo chiles, toasted, stemmed, seeded, and rehydrated
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 small shallot
  • 15 garlic cloves
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

  • 5 dozen oysters
  • 1 1/3 cups Mexican-Style Lamb Chorizo, about 1 pound, crumbled and skillet cooked (page 134 in the cookbook if you want to make your own chorizo)
  • 2/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 cups Ash Salsa (recipe below)

To make the scampi butter, place all the ingredients except the butter in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to create a paste. Add the softened butter to the paste and pulse to incorporate. This can be made ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week, or frozen in an airtight container for up to 1 month. It’s necessary to seal the container tightly because butter absorbs old refrigerator flavors.

Scrub the oysters with a stiff bristle brush under cold running water. Shuck them, and detach them from the shell, but leave them sitting on the halfshell for roasting.

Prepare a grill for direct cooking over high heat. To each oyster on a halfshell add 1 tablespoon scampi butter, 1 teaspoon sausage, and ½ teaspoon bread crumbs, and place them on the grill over a hot fire. You want flames licking the shells. When the shells become charred around the edges and the scampi butter is bubbly, remove them from the fire. Top each oyster with 1 teaspoon Ash Salsa and serve.

Ash SalsaYields 3 cups

This charcoal-black salsa, also known as salsa negro, can be cooked directly in the fire. When you think you’ve gone too far burning the vegetables, cook them a bit longer—they should be blistered and black, like charcoal. The outer skin of the onion will be burnt, but the inside will be roasted. The secret to this salsa is in pureeing the char with the rest of the vegetables. People won’t know what it is, but once they taste it they’ll definitely want more. Serve with Fire-Roasted Oysters.

  • 2 dried chipotle chiles, toasted
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled (cut from the top, leaving the root end intact)
  • 2 jalapeño chiles1 fresh poblano chile
  • 2 medium tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 2 Roma tomatoes 8 cloves garlic, peeled½ teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

Prepare coals and a grill for direct-heat cooking.

Place the toasted chipotles in a medium bowl and set aside.

Nestle the onion, jalapeños, and poblano directly into the hot coals of the fire. Cook the onion and chiles for 5 to 10 minutes, until blistered and blackened, then turn and continue to cook until the other sides are black. The peppers will blister and turn black before the onion does, so remove those first.

Place the tomatillos and tomatoes on the grill over a blazing fire and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the skins are partly charred. The tomatoes are delicate, so use tongs to turn them so that all sides get some char. Cook the tomatillos and tomatoes on the grill at the same time as you cook the onion and peppers in the coals, turning them both as needed.

While the tomatillos and tomatoes are on the grill, make a packet out of foil and place the garlic, oil, and ¼ teaspoon salt into the packet. Place the garlic packet either directly in the coals or on the grill and roast for 5 minutes.

Transfer blackened vegetables to the bowl of chipotles and cover with plastic wrap. When the vegetables are cool enough to handle, remove the stems from the chiles and cut the root end off of the onion, discarding the stems and root end. Place the vegetables, the roasted garlic, and the cilantro, cumin, coriander, and remaining 1½ teaspoons salt in a blender. Puree on medium speed until smooth.

The salsa may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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