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Barbecue Secrets

Recipes of the Week: Smoked Oysters and Grilled Octopus Salad

Jul 11, 2014

Smoked Oysters

Makes 4–8 appetizer-sized servings

The tinned smoked oysters you can buy at the supermarket taste like oily cardboard compared to these plump, delicious beauties. This is a great thing to do when you’ve got your smoker up and running for something else. When you’ve finished your main project, take advantage of the hot smoker and barbecue a few tubs of oysters for later consumption. Keep them in the refrigerator for a few days, or freeze them for a month or two, but I’ll bet they won’t be around that long!

(Buy the way, this recipe works well on the grill. Just use low-medium heat and it's probably a good idea to grill the oysters using one of those perforated thingys that you put on top of your cooking grate to prevent stuff from falling through. If you use this method, reduce the cooking time to a few minutes per side.)

1-pint | 500 mL container shucked large fresh oysters (8–12 oysters)
olive oil
1/4 cup | 50 mL Championship Barbecue Rub (see recipe below)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
barbecue sauce

Prepare your smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature to 200–220˚F | 95–100˚C. Drain the oysters and pat them dry with a paper towel. Coat them lightly with oil and sprinkle both sides with rub. Let them sit for a few minutes, until the rub starts to glisten. Spray your cooking grate with vegetable cooking spray and place the oysters on the grate. Smoke them for 1 hour, using hickory as the flavoring agent, until the oysters are springy to the touch and have taken on a smoky golden hue. Remove them from the smoker, put them on a serving tray and pass them around. They’re best fresh out of the smoker, dipped in barbecue sauce.

Championship Barbecue Rub, a.k.a. Bob’s Rub

Makes about 3 cups | 750 mL

The Butt Shredders call this Bob’s Rub, and it’s what we use in competition. Bob Lyon, the granddaddy of barbecue in the Pacific Northwest, shared this at the barbecue workshop that first
introduced me to the joys of real barbecue and prompted me to become a barbecue competitor. It follows a rule of thumb that’s worth remembering: A third, a third, a third. Which means one-third sugar, one-third seasoned salts, and one-third dry herbs and spices.

1 cup | 250 mL white sugar
1/4 cup | 50 mL celery salt
1/4 cup | 50 mL garlic salt
1/4 cup | 50 mL onion salt
1/4 cup | 50 mL seasoning salt (I like Lawrey’s)
1/3 cup | 75 mL chili powder (use a commercial blend, or if you want an edge, try a combination of real ground chiles like ancho, poblano, New Mexico or guajillo)
1/3 cup | 75 mL black pepper
1/3 cup | 75 mL paprika

Add as much heat as you want to this basic rub, using cayenne pepper, hot paprika, or ground chipotles. Then add 2 or 3 signature spices to suit whatever you’re cooking or your personal taste, like powdered thyme, oregano, cumin, sage, powdered ginger, etc. Add only 1 to 3 tsp | 5 to 15 mL of each signature seasoning so as not to overpower the rub.

Grilled Octopus Salad

Makes 4 servings

When I was a teenager traveling Europe, my friend Rich and I rented Vespas in Rome and cycled to Lido, the beach community just west of the city. We stopped at a restaurant and the garrulous proprietor talked us into eating a seafood salad that featured marinated octopus. I’ll never forget the chewy, tangy chunks of octopus in that salad. It was one of the most satisfying meals I had on that trip.

one 2 lb | 1 kg octopus arm
2 Tbsp | 30 mL extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp | 5 mL crushed Greek oregano
1 tsp | 5 mL crushed chile peppers
1 Tbsp | 30 mL fresh squeezed lemon juice
a splash of red wine vinegar
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For garnish
1 Tbsp | 30 mL freshly chopped flat leaf Italian parsley
lemon wedges

Put a wine cork in a pot of cold water. Place the octopus arm in the water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat down to low and simmer the octopus for about an hour, or until it is tender when you poke it with a knife. Rinse it, dry it, and set it aside.
            Prepare your grill for direct high heat. Brush the octopus arm with a little of the olive oil and grill it just until it has some nice char marks on both sides. Slice it diagonally into bite-sized pieces and put it in a salad bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss the salad. Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator overnight. Toss and serve the salad the next day, garnished with chopped parsley and wedges of lemon.