Oysters Kilpatrick are a favorite way to prepare oysters in Australia, and it's easy to understand why. Topped with bacon and an easy, flavorful sauce, it's one delicious combination.
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They are not something I have all that often, but I do definitely appreciate a good oyster. When we went to Tasmania, they were on my list to have while there since they are sourced so locally and I'd heard are good quality.
Of course, with us self catering part of the time, it ended up only an option on the last night but they didn't disappoint. While you may see a couple of options in how they are served, most restaurants in Australia will have at least two options on the menu: natural (ie as they are, with a slice of lemon on the side) and Kilpatrick. And they are easy to make at home, too.
Where are oysters Kilpatrick from?
Despite their popularity in Australia, it's not entirely clear where this dish originates. There are stories that an alternative name, oysters Kirkpatrick, was first coined in San Francisco. Apparently the chef at the Palace Hotel named them after the hotel manager.
There are other stories, and even if the above one is true, they likely weren't a new creation, just naming.
Whatever the origin, all you really need to know is these are both delicious and easy.
What's in the Kilpatrick sauce?
The core ingredients in this dish are oysters, bacon and Worcestershire sauce, but the other ingredients in the sauce can vary. Some use barbecue sauce or butter in there. A lot of Australian recipes add a dash or so of tabasco.
But the simplest, and probably most common, is just mixing the Worcestershire sauce with ketchup (known as tomato sauce in Australia). Despite being two ingredients, they both have a lot of flavor and work really well with the bacon.
You might think all those flavors might overwhelm the oysters but really they are a lovely match. True, the oyster flavor isn't as distinct as on their own, but I think you get a great appreciation of their texture.
To me, this is a great introduction to oysters if you aren't too sure about them as well, as you have some other great flavors to enjoy with them.
How to cook these oysters
You have a couple of options in how you cook these. One way is to cook them on the grill/barbecue. If you do, they just need a couple minutes and you may want to scrunch up some foil to rest them on to help stop them fall over, or else rest them in the grates on your grill.
The other option is to cook them in the oven or under the broiler/grill. Of these, the oven is going to give you a more even cook while the broiler you will want to watch closely so the toppings don't burn.
For these cooking methods, you would traditionally rest them in a bed of rock salt to keep them stable. Alternatively, you can use scrunched up foil, as I did for my oysters Rockefeller.
For all, I recommend pre-cooking the bacon as you want to make sure it is definitely cooked through, and you don't want to dry out your oysters just to do that. So pre-cook it, mix up the sauce then put both on top of the oysters. Finish off with a quick cook and serve.
You can see how it comes together in the short video.
These oysters Kilpatrick make an easy, elegant appetizer, or serve more in a serving with sides for a full meal. They come together easily, with fantastic flavors. Definitely worth treating yourself to soon.
Try these other elegant seafood appetizers
- 12 oysters
- 2 tablespoon tomato ketchup (tomato sauce)
- 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 dashes tabasco (optional)
- 3 slices smoked bacon (3 rashers streaky bacon) approx 3oz/90g
- rock salt to cook on, depending on cooking method
- If the oysters are not already shucked, open them up and discard the top of the shell. Sit the oyster in the bottom cup-like part of the shell and loosen the oyster if it is attached. Drain off excess liquid and remove any pieces of shell/grit that may have fallen in during opening.
- Mix together the tomato ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and tabasco, if using (see notes re quantities). Set aside.
- Finely chop the bacon into thin strips, cutting larger pieces in half if they bacon is wide. Warm a small skillet/frying pan and cook the bacon (you don't need to use any additional fat) until the bacon is cooked and just starting to crisp/brown.
- If cooking on the grill/BBQ, rest the oysters on some scrunched foil or in the container they came in, if you have one, to keep them relatively level. If using oven/broiler (overhead grill), place some rock salt in a baking dish or on a baking sheet (if the dish is too big, make a smaller holder for the salt using foil as in video). Nestle the oysters in the salt to keep them level. You can also use a layer of scrunched up foil.
- Spoon roughly a teaspoon of the sauce over each oyster then top with a few pieces of bacon (exactly how much of each depends on the size of the oyster a little but you want them fairly well covered).
For broiler (overhead grill)
- For broiler cooking, don't use a glass/pyrex dish as it may crack under the high more direct heat. Make sure you use a dish suitable for the broiler (a baking sheet works well). Place the oven dish/baking sheet under a pre-heated broiler on high setting for around 4-6 minutes until the sauce is sizzling and the bacon slightly crisped. Keep a close eye as you don't want the toppings to burn, just caramelize a little.
For grill/BBQ cooking
- Place the oysters on a pre-headed grill (medium-high heat), using the grates to help keep them level, tucking in some scrunched pieces of foil under the oysters if needed. Cook for around 3-5 minutes (covered) until the sauce is bubbling, taking care that the oysters don't overcook.
For oven cooking
- Preheat the oven to 400F/200C ahead of time. Place the oven dish with the oysters in the oven for around 5-10 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the bacon slightly crisped.
For all - serving
- Once cooked, serve the oysters in the shell with a slice of lemon on the side. Typically, you would serve them on some rock salt (eg transfer some that you used in cooking) or you can get special dishes that keep the oysters relatively flat.
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