My Mignonette

Our favorite recipes for dressing up oysters, from chefs around the state.

At Virginia Living, we love oysters (of course!). We’ll eat them grilled, roasted, fried and baked, and even drink them from a shot glass. But there’s really no substitute for the sweet, briny taste of an ice cold raw oyster cracked open fresh from the River. Add a splash of one of our favorite mignonettes to yours and enjoy.


Apple Mignonette 

From Chef Jeff Farmer, Lucky Restaurant, Roanoke


2 cups Champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 Ginger Gold apples (or any tart apple)
2 shallots
3 tablespoons mixed peppercorns
pinch of sea salt
zest of one lemon

In a mixing bowl combine Champagne vinegar and whisk olive oil until emulsified. Add minced shallots and finely diced apples. Zest in lemon. Take peppercorns and coarsely chop in a spice grinder. Sift the pepper, reserving only the larger pieces and add to mixing bowl. Add a pinch of salt, bearing in mind you want your mignonette to complement, not compete with the oysters. 

Chill the mignonette for two to four days before serving. Serve on the side of raw oysters using only ½ to a ¼ of a teaspoon per oyster. 

Serves 8


Comfort Mignonette

From Chefs Jason Alley and Troy Dewees, Comfort, Richmond


1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 piece of ginger, peeled, cut 3 inches long,
½ inch thick and 1½ inches wide
1 stalk lemongrass, tough outer leaves removed, cut in half and split
1 star anise pod
7 peppercorns
½ bottle of blanc de blanc Champagne
2 shallots, minced
½ bunch of flat leaf parsley leaves, minced

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a heavy bottomed sauce pot, and whisk to combine. Place the pot over medium high heat until it boils. Boil for 3 minutes, remove from heat, and allow to cool. This step can be done as much as 1 week in advance. Keep very cold in the refrigerator until ready to use.

When ready to serve, place equal parts champagne and mignonette base in a bowl, and stir in the shallots and parsley. Serve over ice cold Rappahannock River oysters on the half shell.

Serves 8


Cucumber-Celery Mignonette

From Chef J Frank, Richmond


½ cup Champagne vinegar
½ cup rice wine vinegar
1 2-inch piece cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 medium shallot, peeled
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons minced chives
diced shallot and cucumber for garnish

Place all ingredients except garnish in a blender and blend on high until smooth. Spoon a generous tablespoon over each shucked oyster and garnish with diced shallot and cucumber mix.

Makes enough for 12 oysters


Fizz Mignonette

From Tracey Love, Charlottesville


1 cup Thibaut-Janisson Fizz or sparkling white wine
2 shallots, minced
zest of ½ lemon peel
1 tablespoon white wine or rosé vinegar
½ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
½ teaspoon sugar
2 dozen Virginia oysters, shucked
shaved ice, for serving

In a bowl, combine the sparkling white wine, shallots, vinegar, lemon peel zest, sugar and pepper. Make at least 12 hours in advance and chill. Arrange the oysters on a bed of ice and serve with the chilled mignonette.

Serves 8

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