Kilpatrick Oysters

Oysters prepared in the Kilpatrick style are a popular choice in Australia, and it is simple to see why this is the case. It's one of the best combinations ever, what with the bacon on top and the simple but flavorful sauce.

close up of oysters Kilpatrick from side

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Oysters are not something I consume very frequently, but when I do have them, I am always appreciative of a good one. Because they are produced so close to where we were staying in Tasmania, I made sure to get some of them while we were there. I had heard that they are of a high quality.

Naturally, because we did some of our own cooking during our stay, we were only able to take advantage of this option on the very last night, but they did not let us down. Natural (i.e., as they are, with a slice of lemon on the side), and Kilpatrick are the two options that you will find on the menu at the vast majority of restaurants in Australia. There may be a couple of variations in how they are served, but you can expect to find at least these two options. In addition, they are simple to prepare at home.

finished dish on a plate of rock salt from overhead

Where in the world are oysters Kilpatrick harvested?

It is not entirely clear where the origin of this dish lies, despite the fact that it is quite popular in Australia. According to some accounts, the alternative name "oysters Kirkpatrick" was initially used in the city of San Francisco. It would appear that the executive chef at the Palace Hotel named them after the general manager of the establishment.

There are additional tales, and even if the one presented here is accurate, it's highly unlikely that these characters originated from scratch; rather, they were probably just given new names.  

Regardless of where these came from, the most important thing to take away from this is that they are both simple and delicious.

oysters, sauce and bacon pieces next to each other

What's the secret ingredient in the Kilpatrick sauce?

Oysters, bacon, and Worcestershire sauce are the three essential components of this dish; however, the other components of the sauce can be customized to taste. There are those who put butter or barbecue sauce in there. A significant number of dishes from Australia call for the addition of tabasco sauce in some form.

But the easiest method, and the one that is most likely used the most, is to simply combine the Worcestershire sauce and ketchup (also called tomato sauce in Australia). Despite the fact that there are only two of them, both of them pack a lot of flavor and complement the bacon extremely well.  

You might imagine that all of those flavors would be too much for the oysters, but in reality, they make a beautiful pair. Although the flavor of the oysters isn't as pronounced as it is when they are eaten on their own, I believe that the texture of the oysters is better appreciated.

If you aren't sure if you like oysters or not, this dish is a wonderful way to ease into them because it features a variety of other delicious flavors that pair well with the oysters.  

prepared oysters ready to cook

How to prepare these oysters for eating

When it comes to preparing these, you have a few different options. One method is to prepare them by cooking them on a grill or barbecue. If you do, they only need a few minutes, and you may want to scrunch up some foil to rest them on to help prevent them from falling over, or you can rest them in the grates of your grill. Either way, they will be fine.  

You also have the choice of cooking them in the oven or putting them under the grill or broiler. The oven is going to give you a more even cook than the broiler, but with the broiler, you will need to keep a close eye on the toppings to make sure they don't burn.

In the traditional use of these cooking methods, you would traditionally keep them stable by resting them on a bed of rock salt. Alternately, you could make your oysters Rockefeller with foil that has been scrunched up, like I did.  

For everyone, I recommend pre-cooking the bacon because you want to make sure it is definitely cooked through, and you don't want to dry out your oysters just to do that. Therefore, you should prepare the bacon ahead of time. Therefore, you should pre-cook it, prepare the sauce, and then put both of those things on top of the oysters. Lastly, finish by giving it a quick cook, and serve.

The quick video gives an explanation of how everything fits together.

side view of oysters Kilpatrick on bed of rock salt

You can serve more oysters Kilpatrick in a single serving with some side dishes to make it a complete meal, or you can serve them as an easy and elegant appetizer. They are straightforward to put together and have outstanding flavors. Definitely something you should indulge in very soon.

Try some of these other sophisticated seafood starters.

plate of oysters Kilpatrick on a bed of rock salt
Print Recipe
This straightforward method of cooking oysters yields meat that is tender and flavorful, despite its ease of preparation.
Author: The Cooking of Caroline
  • 12 oysters
  • 2 tablespoon tomato ketchup (tomato sauce)
  • 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce in its original bottle.
  • 2 dashes tabasco (optional)
  • 3 slices cured pork belly (three rashers of streaky bacon) approximately 3 ounces or 90 grams
  • Depending on the method of cooking, rock salt can be used as a cooking surface.
  • If the oysters have not already been shucked, you will need to crack them open and throw away the top layer of shell. Place the oyster in the part of the shell that resembles a cup at the bottom, and if it is attached to anything, pry it loose. Drain off any excess liquid, and clean out the container thoroughly, removing any shell fragments or grit that may have fallen in during opening.
  • Tomato ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and tabasco, if using, should be combined in a bowl (see notes for information regarding quantities). Set aside
  • Prepare the bacon by chopping it very finely into thin strips and slicing any larger pieces in half if they are wide. To cook the bacon, heat a small skillet or frying pan over medium heat and cook the bacon without adding any additional fat until the bacon is cooked through and just beginning to crisp or brown.
  • If you are going to cook the oysters on a grill or barbecue, make sure to keep them relatively level by placing them on some scrunched-up foil or in the original packaging, if you still have it. Place some rock salt in a baking dish or on a baking sheet if you are going to be using an oven or broiler (overhead grill). If the baking dish is too large, you can make a smaller holder for the salt out of foil, as shown in the video. Place the oysters in the salt so that they are at an even height. You could also make use of a layer of crumpled up aluminum foil.
  • A little less than a teaspoon of the sauce should be drizzled on top of each oyster, and then a few pieces of bacon should be placed on top of that (exactly how much of each should be used is somewhat dependent on the size of the oyster, but you want them to be fairly well covered).
  • Do not use a dish made of glass or pyrex for cooking under a broiler because it runs the risk of breaking under the high, direct heat. Be sure to use a dish that can withstand the heat of the broiler (a baking sheet is a good option). Put the casserole dish or baking sheet in the oven and preheat the broiler to its highest setting. After about four to six minutes, the sauce should be bubbling and the bacon should have a light char. Keep a close eye on the toppings because you don't want them to catch fire; you just want them to caramelize slightly.
  • Put the oysters on a preheated grill over medium-high heat, and use the grates to help keep them level. If necessary, tuck some scrunched-up pieces of foil under the oysters to keep them from falling through the grates. Cook for approximately three to five minutes with the cover on until the sauce begins to bubble, being careful not to overcook the oysters.
  • Before you start cooking, make sure the oven is preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius. Put the dish with the oysters in the oven for about five to ten minutes, or until the sauce begins to bubble and the bacon becomes slightly crisp.
  • After they have been cooked, the oysters should be served in their shells with a slice of lemon on the side. Traditionally, you would serve them atop a bed of rock salt (for example, transfer some of the salt that you used in the cooking), but you can also purchase specialized dishes that keep the oysters in a relatively flat position.
Note: the sauce combination can be very flexible and is largely determined by individual preference. This version is pretty punchy and spicy, even though it's 1:1. I would recommend preparing a half batch first, tasting it, and then either adding the same amount of each sauce again if you like it or adding more tomato ketchup if you prefer something a little less intense (some people use two parts ketchup to one part Worcestershire sauce or even four parts ketchup to one part Worcestershire sauce).
Calories: 172 kcal | Carbohydrates: 8 g | Protein: 5 g | Fat: 13 g | Fats that are Saturated: 4 g | Trans Fat: 1 g | Cholesterol: 25 mg | Sodium: 531 mg | Potassium: 262 mg | Fiber: 1 g | Sugar: 5 g | Vitamin A: 106 IU | Vitamin C: 3 mg | Calcium: 27 mg | Iron: 1 mg

Check out the Amazon storefront for Caroline's Cooking to get your hands on some of my favorite cooking implements and components.  

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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. Great as an appetizer for date night, Valentine's day or just because. #oysters #valentinesday
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