This authentic recipe for Drago's charbroiled oysters was given to me from the horse's mouth -- Tommy Cvitanovich who owns Drago's Seafood Restaurant with his parents, Drago and Klara Cvitanovich, in New Orleans and Metairie, La., and now in Jackson, Miss.
When I told him I was not an oyster lover, Cvitanovich said, "This is the perfect dish for those who want to enjoy oysters in their unadorned form but can't or won't eat them raw. Once you start eating these charbroiled ones, you won't be able to stop. Don't attempt this without freshly shucked oysters and an outdoor grill."
Boy, was he right.
Tommy Cvitanovich developed the recipe more than 20 years ago in response to the raw oyster scare circulating at the time. Since oyster stock is the best liquid to cook seafood in, he says, he knew charbroiling oysters would produce a good result, especially since it was a take-off on his already popular grilled red fish. His new menu item took off like a shot.
The Cvitanovich family is of Croatian descent and it was Croatian sailors who brought their fishing skills and hard-work ethic to Louisiana in the 1800s to soon dominate the oyster farming trade, which has become one of Louisiana's largest industries. It's not surprising that Croatians would be such great fishermen. Its huge coastline along the Adriatic Sea is the source of income for the majority of the inhabitants living there, in cities like Dubrovnik, where Drago and Klara are from.
Here are three traditional Croatian recipes from Klara Cvitanovich:
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) softened butter
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Pinch dried oregano
- 1 1/2 dozen large, freshly shucked oysters on the half shell
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan and Romano cheeses, mixed
- 2 teaspoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Heat a gas or charcoal grill. In a medium bowl, mix butter with garlic, pepper, and oregano.
- Place oysters on the half shell right over the hottest part. Spoon enough of the seasoned butter over the oysters so that some of it will overflow into the fire and flame up a bit.
- The oysters are ready when they puff up and get curly on the sides, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the grated Parmesan and Romano and the parsley on top. Serve on the shells immediately with hot French bread.