Not content with claiming pavlovas, lamingtons and ANZAC biscuits as their own, google “Oysters Kilpatrick” and some websites will tell you that they too were an Australian invention. They will even go so far as to refer to them as “this traditional Australian recipe for oysters”. However, it seems, possibly unsurprisingly, that is not the case.
Scottish-American Ernest Arbogast, one of the chefs of the Palm Court Restaurant in San Francisco’s Place Hotel is credited with creating Oysters Kilpatrick. He apparently named the dish after Colonel John C. Kirkpatrick, who managed the hotel from 1894 to 1914.
Oysters Kilpatrick, also called Oysters Kirkpatrick, are a dish of shucked oysters cooked in their shells topped with crispy bacon and Worcestershire sauce.
While some consider cooking oysters a travesty, when done properly it can highlight the oyster’s own special flavour characteristics and may help introduce these gourmet treasures to new audiences.
The fried bacon and tangy Worcestershire sauce complement the fresh, salty flavours of our delicious Mahurangi oysters beautifully.
How to make a Kilpatrick oyster
The core ingredients are oysters, bacon and Worcestershire sauce, but the other ingredients in the sauce can vary. Some use barbecue sauce, balsamic vinegar or butter, others add a dash or so of Tabasco or sweet chilli sauce. Some people will top each oyster with grated tasty cheese or even Camembert.
But the simplest, and probably most common method is just to mix the Worcestershire sauce with tomato sauce. They both have a lot of flavour and work really well with the bacon. The key is a well-balanced sauce. It should highlight the sweetness and saltiness of the oyster, not smother it. Using a homemade tomato sauce or chutney instead of the trusty Wattie’s variety can also give your Kilpatrick oysters an additional lift. The oysters should be warmed through, but not overcooked, shrunken, blackened or rubbery. You can use any oysters; simply adjust the cooking times depending on their size.
Importantly, Oysters Kilpatrick are not the same as Oysters Rockefeller which are oysters with a creamy garlic, spinach and cheese sauce topping.
- 1 dozen fresh Mahurangi Oysters shucked
- 100 gms bacon diced
- 1 lemon
- 3 tbsp tomato sauce
- 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- Coarse salt
- Mix the tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce together and keep it aside.
- Cover an oven tray with a bed of coarse salt and put the shucked oysters on it. Divide the bacon over the oysters and top them with about 1 tsp of of Kilpatrick sauce per oyster.
- Grill the oysters for 5 to 8 minutes or until the bacon is crispy and cooked through.
- Serve immediately with the extra Kilpatrick sauce and lemon wedges.
The oyster of choice
Thanks to our careful husbandry and intelligent market selection, our plump Pacific oysters have become the oyster of choice in the Auckland restaurant scene and are exported in large numbers to Pacific Rim countries.