Photo: Gourmet

Recipe: Oyster Pan Roast

As we head towards Thanksgiving, here’s an alternative recipe to oyster stuffing, one that will allow the oysters to shine without the weight of too many trappings. Try it out with a moderately briny East Coast oyster or our shucked oyster meats for the best results.

This oyster pan roast dish has been a fixture for years at the Grand Central Oyster Bar. In fact, in a piece on the greatest dish of all time in New York, critic Adam Platt announced that it was assuredly the oyster pan roast at the top of the heap: “The Oyster Bar pan roast — still being served at the Oyster Bar in the bowels of Grand Central — is a silky concoction, thicker than soup but gentler than a stew… In that magisterial, eternally bustling room full of strangers, it tasted exactly the way it did when I ordered it for the first time, 40 years ago, with my grandfather, a lifelong New Yorker: opulent, mysteriously spicy, and faintly like the sea.”

You may be wondering why the recipe is titled “pan roast,” when it doesn’t really involve any roasting, or even pans, for that matter. After some internet sleuthing, I still have not come up with a satisfactory answer, so if you know, please leave a comment below!

Oyster Pan Roast

Adapted from Gourmet/Grand Central Oyster Bar
Yield: 4 servings

3/4 cup shucked oysters (about 32 oysters), drained, liquor reserved (see notes above)
Up to 2/3 cup bottled clam juice, if necessary
1/4 cup bottled ketchup-style chili sauce
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup heavy cream
4 slices crusty bread, toasted
Pinch of paprika, or to taste

  1. If oysters did not yield 1 cup liquor, add enough clam juice to bring total to 1 cup. (If there is more than 1 cup liquor, use excess for another dish.)
  2. Stir together oysters, liquor, chili sauce, wine, Worcestershire sauce, celery salt, and 2 tablespoons butter in a metal bowl or top of a double boiler. Set over simmering water and simmer, stirring occasionally, just until edges of oysters begin to curl, about 5 minutes. Add cream and bring to a bare simmer; do not let boil.
  3. Top toast with remaining 6 tablespoons butter and put in 4 bowls. Ladle hot soup over toast and sprinkle with paprika.

Bon appétit!