Spice up the beginning of your fall with our September spice, Aranat N. 35. This spice will bridge your taste buds from summer to fall with a smoked, wood-fire flavor and a warm, earthy red pepper finish. We love the way this accents a fresh cooked oyster in this recipe, but you can also try it on fish, chicken, or even toss a little on top of your favorite Bloody Mary.
BBQ-Baked Oysters with Bacon Powder
Ingredients: Makes 4 appetizer servings
4 thin slices bacon
½ stick unsalted butter, diced
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
½ red onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons Ararat N.35 spice blend, plus more for garnish
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups whole milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped chives
¼ cup pepper jack cheese
1 dozen oysters, on the half shell
¼ cup prepared barbecue sauce
Cilantro leaves and lime wedges, for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the bacon and make until crispy, about 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain, then very finely chop the bacon and set aside on paper towels. Keep warm.
2. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the bell pepper, jalapeno and onion and cook over medium heat until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the Ararat and flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk, bring to a simmer and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until you can’t taste the flour and the sauce is thickened, about 8 minutes.
3. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Fold in the parsley and chives, then the cheese. Let the béchamel cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes. (The béchamel can be made up to a day ahead and refrigerated. Let it warm to room temperature for 30 minutes before using.)
4. Preheat the broiler. Place a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet and arrange the oysters on the rack. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of béchamel over each oyster and brush each with 1 teaspoon of barbecue sauce. Broil the oysters until the sauce is bubbling, about 4 to 5 minutes.
5. Sprinkle each oyster with bacon powder and a small pinch of Ararat. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve with lime wedges.
Photography by Thomas Schauer.