Oyster Pan Roast Recipe

Oyster Pan Roast Recipe

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Arthur Bovino

Oyster pan roast.

Years ago, when I was working at Pearl, I read M.F.K. Fisher's Consider the Oyster. Then when The John Dory opened next door to Del Posto a few years ago, I fell in love with chef April Bloomfield's "Oyster Pan Roast with Sea Urchin Butter."

A little salt, a little pepper, plump oysters sitting at the bottom like some lost treasure, found. Amazing. So it was a real blow when the restaurant closed and New York lost Chef Bloomfield's Oyster Pan Roast and Hangtown Fry (juicy oysters, thick bacon, and spicy jalapeño). Sure, Grand Central Oyster Bar has a pan roast that's celebrated, but it just didn't matter. New York had lost two of its best oyster dishes. I was forlorn.

So I rejoiced when The John Dory and its Oyster Pan Roast were revived at the ACE. But in the jilted time in between, I was forced to perfect my own recipe. It's fairly simple, and I didn't try to replicate the uni butter (though The Times did everyone a public service by adapting the chef's recipe so you can try if you like), but I have to say, I'm pretty proud of it.

This recipe features oysters from Hood Canal (the Puget Sound) provided by the New York Oyster Company — big, juicy, very briny oysters. But truth be told, I've made pan roasts with all kinds of oysters and I've yet to encounter an oyster that makes the dish a fail. You can even use a combination of oysters if you like.

Now, how about bringing back the Hangtown Fry, Chef?

Click here to see 7 Outstanding Oyster Recipes.


  • 12 oysters, rigorously scrubbed, and carefully shucked (liquor reserved)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or thinly sliced on a mandoline
  • ½ shallot, minced or thinly sliced on a mandoline
  • ½ celery stalk, minced or thinly sliced on a mandoline
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon sherry
  • 1/3 capful of Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of paprika
  • 10 pink peppercorns, ground (optional)
  • Parsley, chiffonade, for garnish


Pour the oysters and liquor into a strainer, collecting the liquor in a small bowl. If you really want to make sure you get rid of any grit you can place the oysters back in their liquor and jostle them gently in it, then remove them and strain the liquor again. Depends on how much grit gets into the oyster, how good a shucker you are, and how OCD you are about grit. Personally, grit and cream don't mix for me.

Melt the butter in medium-sized pan and lightly sauté the garlic, shallot, and celery until translucent. Add the cream and gently simmer. Add the milk, and oyster liquor, and gently simmer. You want a thick creamy consistency but you don't want to be drinking straight cream here.

Add the oysters, sherry, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, paprika, and the ground peppercorns, give it a second for the mixture to meld together. Serve it all up in a cup or a bowl a little parsley on top, portioning out the oysters depending on how much you like your guests and how selfish you are.

Oyster pan roast with nutmeg

My Christmas fantasy always involves dispensing with gifts, stopping the music and replanting all those doomed trees. But there’s no way I would pass up baking cookies with ginger, doctoring eggnog with brandy or indulging in any of the other tasteful aspects of the holiday.

Beyond its more obvious meanings, after all, Christmas is really so much about flavor. At least a dozen fruits, spices and liquors are indelibly associated with it. Most of them are tastes you might experience any other day of the year -- cinnamon in a sticky bun or nutmeg in creamed spinach -- but this is the one occasion when they take on a deeper significance, one that goes back to Victorian times.

Some of the meaning is based on scarcity: Centuries before supermarkets, cooks had to ration their cinnamon and cloves for seriously special occasions. Some of it is rooted in decadence: The natural urge on a holiday that comes but once a year is to bring out the best -- the darkest chocolate, the most expensive spices. And some of it evolved from pure necessity: Spices and liquor also have preservative effects, which is about the only plausible explanation for the invention of the fruitcake.

So much of taste is memory, though, and that’s what makes the flavors of Christmas so potent. Every culture has its own traditional signatures, such as cardamom and saffron in Sweden or ginger and nutmeg in England, while some flavors are almost universal, such as cinnamon and allspice. But every person has his or her own nostalgia trigger, one taste that symbolizes the season.

I’m the greedy type who has several. Orange may not be the most obvious flavor in cooking, but it has a special hold over me because my family only got the fruit at Christmas. The smell of orange rind always takes me back to cold mornings around a wood stove in Arizona, after Mass and before the ham and mincemeat pie -- both scented with cloves, another powerful flavor of Christmas.

Five other spices are just as evocative: nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and aniseed. My mom always had a free hand with spices, but she turned profligate during Advent, not only sharing with me but also letting me use her spices as well as all the shortening and sugar that I wanted to bake cookies from her Betty Crocker recipes: snickerdoodles rolled in cinnamon chewy gingersnaps German Lebkuchen with honey and cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cloves. Our Mexican neighbors, meanwhile, were getting out the aniseed for the cookies they shared and we loved.

My mom’s little bottles of extracts and flavorings were put to use in other cookies, which is why I associate peppermint with more than just candy. Every year I made candy cane cookies out of a sugar dough, half colored pink, half left white, all of it flavored with oil of peppermint and then twisted together in stripes.

Largely because of those little bottles, I also consider brandy an integral part of Christmas (my dad sold Watkins flavorings door-to-door at one time and I think the line included brandy “extract”). Brandy is what makes a plum pudding flammable and a hard sauce approachable.

Chocolate has come to be the dominant Christmas flavor, and this is the one time of year it even appeals to me, again for tradition’s sake. We always had a surfeit in my house: Whitman’s Samplers in a good year and chocolate-covered cherries or chocolate bells from the dime store in a lean year. Today I buy better chocolate and know many more ways to use it, especially in combination with orange or peppermint.

And that is a big part of the magic of all these flavors, how naturally they all come together. Plan a dish with cloves and it seems to create harmony with a dish with ginger and another with orange.

Always, with the flavors of Christmas, the wonder is in the fragrance as much as the taste. One of my favorite indulgences is baking something liberally spiced late at night so that the whole apartment is perfumed for hours. As even I’ll concede, when you go to bed with ginger, you wake up cheerful.

CLOVES: A pungent fundamental

Before Americans developed a spice tooth, cloves were like the ghost of Christmas. Cooks seemed a little afraid of them, and they were sensed more than seen. Cookbooks were always warning that a pinch was plenty, unless you were looking at a ham. Then the whole cloves were fine, and in any quantity, since they seemed to be more accessory than seasoning.

Now it’s not uncommon to come across recipes that measure ground cloves by the teaspoon and whole cloves almost by the handful. Even more revolutionary, the cloves are sometimes used alone or with pungent pepper, not blunted by the usual cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice that give so many holiday cookies their smooth bite.

One reason cloves have traditionally been used so sparingly, besides their in-your-mouth flavor, is that they are not cheap. Each is the bud of the clove tree, picked by hand and dried in the sun. No wonder they have been cut with other seasonings in spice blends in so many cuisines, whether the French quatre epices or China’s five-spice powder.

In any quantity, cloves and Christmas belong together. They are the fundamental flavoring in mincemeat pie, in plum pudding and of course in the big ham on so many tables. You can’t have glogg or wassail without whole cloves adding the peppery undertone, one that makes it easy to understand why clove oil is used as a mild anesthetic: It numbs your gums.

One of the best ways to get the full flavor of cloves is in pickled fruit, which makes a great side relish for ham or turkey. Seckel pears in particular take well to simmering with whole cloves in sugar syrup, with just enough cinnamon and peppercorns to round out the flavor. (In another season, peaches can be transformed with the same formula.)

Cloves are associated so strongly with Christmas partly because they have always been used to make pomanders out of oranges. The combination is certainly fragrant, but just as in the old timid days you get the sense without the sensation. Better to stuff the cloves into an onion and add it to turkey soup.

One of my Christmas epiphanies came the year I tried adding crystallized ginger to a ginger cookie I had made dozens of times before. It was bliss squared, or at least rounded.

Ginger is the quintessential holiday spice, the flavor foundation for gingerbread men and gingerbread houses for generations. But those standards traditionally use only dry powdered ginger. Both the more refined form -- crystallized -- and the most natural -- fresh -- have much more jolting intensity.

Like most flavors of Christmas, ginger can work either the savory or the sweet side of the table. One of my favorite salads on a ham buffet for an open house is curried rice with celery, scallions, dried cranberries and dried apricots, with lots of crystallized ginger and grated fresh ginger. The ginger in the curry powder and the ginger in the dressing make their own heat and light against the sweetness of the fruit.

Ginger is also an integral ingredient in the hot and sweet chutneys that go so well with either ham or turkey, and even cranberry sauce can be shaken out of its lethargy with fresh or crystallized ginger.

Ginger can go almost anywhere cinnamon can: into apple pies as well as the usual pumpkin, or into sugar cookies and spice cakes, and especially into warm drinks simmered in big pots. It even works with chocolate: you can make a great, quick gift by melting good dark chocolate and dipping slices of crystallized ginger partway into it, the way you would candied citrus.

Fresh, dried or crystallized ginger can also be simmered with pumpkin, honey and other spices to make an old-fashioned pumpkin butter.

Of the three faces of ginger, crystallized is the most festive. Made from big slices of fresh ginger that have been cooked and thickly coated with sugar, it has a chewy texture and sweet-hot flavor. You can eat it like candy.

NUTMEG: A gift for the senses

Nutmeg is the Christmas tree of spices: The smell is half the appeal. Freshly grated, it has a sweet, warm, borderline resiny aroma you can almost taste even before it hits the eggnog. Like pepper, nutmeg loses its strength fast, which is why it is added at the end of cooking in so many dishes. Also like pepper, it needs its own special implement, a grater that can convert a hard brown seed into fragrant flecks. In Europe in the Middle Ages, a nutmeg grater was the accessory du jour among the rich, who carried it to ostentatiously season their own food.

Nutmeg has power because it is such a team player -- it blends with cinnamon, ginger, allspice and cloves in recipes from gingerbread to pumpkin pie -- yet has enough personality to stand alone. Some of the best cookies I make at Christmas are flavored with nothing but nutmeg.

As complementary as nutmeg is with sugar, it pairs with cream and butter in not only sweet but also savory dishes. It’s surprisingly suited to seafood, particularly oysters in a rich pan roast with lots of cream. The French use it in classic quenelles as well as in blanquette de veau, and it is also common in meatballs, especially those in a cream sauce. The same richness carries nutmeg flavor through other savory recipes, including bechamel and creamed spinach.

Nutmeg is often paired with mace, which makes sense considering they start out together in life. Mace is the husk around the nutmeg that is separated, dried and ground.

The difference between the two is largely a matter of taste. Mace is stronger, but nutmeg seems to be twice as flavorful because of its fragrance, which is why it stands up to the rum in your eggnog.

ORANGE: A perfect partner whose fragrance evokes the holiday

For anyone who was not citrus-deprived in childhood, orange may not be the most obvious flavor of the season -- it might taste more like breakfast than Christmas. But it’s really worth celebrating.

Orange just goes naturally with sugar and spices and everything wintry and festive. You can use it whole as an ornament or slice it into a batch of mulled wine. You can squeeze the juice for a compote or zest the rind for cakes. Best of all, you can mix and match it with every other season’s flavoring, whether chocolate or ginger.

Orange is integral in countless Christmas foods: cookies, trifle, coconut macaroons -- even ambrosia, that Southern cross between salad and dessert. Orange can substitute for lemon in curd, which is good to have around at the holidays to layer into a tart or just spread on warm scones. It can also come to the breakfast table in a coffee cake or muffins, with or without poppy seeds or walnuts.

Most recipes with dates, particularly old-fashioned date bars and date pinwheels, are better with orange because it adds a citric edge to keep the combination of sugar and fruit from turning cloying.

As anyone who has ever made a marinade for grilled pork knows, orange has an affinity for meat and heat. For turkey, the Silver Palate’s great secret, in that long-lost era before brining, was a couple of oranges juiced over the skin and scenting the cavity.

Orange blends well with the usual brown sugar or honey as a glaze for ham, but I like the way it takes on a biting edge with chipotle chiles. Orange has another advantage: it comes in two forms. The rind contains the pungent oil, which even in small quantities can flavor a batch of sugar cookies. The juice is milder but can be substituted for milk or other liquids in baking to add a sweetly edgy undertone. The zest and juice in combination are doubly good in recipes such as brownies and poundcake.

Since Christmas is not just about taste, though, you don’t even have to get your hands sugary for the orange effect. Just simmer strips of the rind in a pot of water with cloves, ginger, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg and you’ll capture the essence of the holiday.

ANISEED: An alluring back note

Aniseed tastes like Christmas to me because I grew up in a Mexican neighborhood in Arizona where bizcochos were the real gingerbread men. Everyone’s mother baked these little diamonds, flecked with tiny seeds with an almost licorice flavor. Even with a coating of cinnamon sugar over each cookie, the anise came through clearly.

Until recently, bizcochos were the only reason I kept aniseed in my spice rack. Now, thanks to the Internets, I’ve found other Christmas uses: in springerle cookies from Alsace and Germany, and on fougasse from Monaco, a fragrant version of focaccia. In the Canary Islands, aniseed is used in cookies, sweet potato pies and many drinks. I think I was in Lanzarote in the wrong season, though, because I never tasted it there.

But it makes sense that aniseed would be a Canary Islands alternative to nutmeg or cinnamon in polverones, the crumbly little cookies also known as Mexican wedding cakes or Russian tea cakes.

Its gentle but assertive flavor carries through best with lots of butter (or lard, in the case of bizcochos).

Aniseed is the back note in dragees, the crunchy sugared almonds the French lay out on festive occasions (the ones Americans know as Jordan almonds). It’s the top note in all those milky-looking, licorice-tasting liqueurs in so many countries: pastis, Pernod, ouzo, Sambuca, aguardiente and raki (the Turkish translation). Any of these is a good way to add flavor to a seafood stew or a sauce any time of year.

Fittingly for the season of excess, though, aniseed has always been most appreciated as a digestive. It’s in the post-meal spice mixture at the door of Indian restaurants. And Waverley Root wrote that the ancient Romans baked it into cakes that essentially served as their after-dinner mints.

Related Video

I've been making this recipe since I found it in Craig Claiborne's classic NY Times Cookbook in the 1970's. He explained the "pan roast" comes from the unique pan the Oyster Bar uses. It has nothing to do with actual roasting. This classic can be compared to the difference between New England clam chowder and Manhattan clam chowder: one's white and the other is red. Certainly not the same ingredients, but it explains the difference between Oyster Stew and the Grand Central Oyster Bar version.

We have made this recipe every Christmas since its debut in the December 1996 Gourmet magazine. It's orgins are from the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Terminal in NYC. An easy to make, delicious and elegant oyster stew that does not taste fishy.

Iɾ made this dish four times already It's my favorite oyster recipe next to eating them raw on the half shell. I'm not quite sure why it's called a "roast", when, as another reviewer noted, the oysters are swimming in a sort of creamy broth. I don't care though b/c it's absolutely delicious! I can eat a whole loaf of french bread dipped in the liquid. You could probably half the sauce and still have plenty.

Classic! I will definitely make again. I don't know the origin of "pan roast", but this is just the way it is supposed to be.

Quick and easy, yes, but a major disappointment. Why is it called "roast" when the oysters heat in more than 3/4 cup of liquid and then simmer briefly after adding another 1/2 cup of liquid? It was soupy, unattractive, and overly sweet (I used the Heinz ketchup-style chili sauce called for). A waste of some beautiful, freshly shucked oysters.


Oyster Pan Roast is a classic--rich, full of taste and texture, and mellow in colour. Presentation in a silver chafing dish makes it a perfect Sunday supper for six (but no more). How absolutely pleasant--and civilized--to once again discover the joy of oysters, unadulterated by uncessary seasonings. Oyster Pan Roast is subtle and soothing, a perfect antidote to a cold winter's day.

This was indeed quick and easy. I halved the recipe for a single serving and added about 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish. That gave it just enough zing without it being overpowering.

the only thing I really liked was that it was fast & easy. There wasn`t enuf zing to it.

The Best Seafood Pan Roast

Have you ever craved a type of food so much, you felt no problem waiting 3 hours just so you could get 1 out of the 18 seats available at the counter? That’s exactly what I did when I waited for a seat at the Oyster Bar at the Palace Station in Las Vegas just so I could order what I considered to be the most perfect seafood pan roast ever! I’m sure the reason I love this dish is that when you take into account ingredients such as butter and cream, brandy, and seafood, the flavor in this dish is not going to be a problem! This is not the dish to prepare if you think you need to reduce calories for the week.

Oyster Bar at the Palace Station in Las Vegas

In researching seafood pan roast recipes, the one item that seemed to be consistent, was the use of a chili sauce. When putting together a recipe that I could be happy with, the use of Heinz Chili Sauce was the one item that I could not do without. Having some butter toasted garlic bread on the side to sop up some of that extra sauce was also a must. Adding a scoop of rice could certainly fill out your final dish.

When preparing this dish, using those extras would always bring back fond memories of my first pan roast at the Oyster House.

As always, thanks for Spending Time in My Kitchen!

About this recipe

Fred Thompson is the publisher of Edible Piedmont, a food photographer and consultant, as well as the author of 14 cookbooks including Southern Sides, Grillmaster, Barbecue Nation, and The Big Book of Fish and Shellfish. Next fall he will introduce Bacon, a new edition in the Savor the South series of cookbooks.

“This recipe has been part of the holidays for 20 years at my house. If I didn’t make it I’d be tarred and feathered. I even had the guts to prepare this for chef Ben Barker once. This recipe says Christmas Eve to me, and to those that celebrate with me. It started as an effort to give some joy to my oyster-loving father-in-law, to watch the expression on his face as he savored every bite. Now that he’s passed, it has become a memory, an honoring of sorts, and a way to keep him with us during the holidays. But don’t stop with this dish at Christmas—it’s great throughout the chilly months of oyster season.”

Oyster Pan Roast

A recipe without an owner is like a smile without a hug, so why not show some love and make it your own?

By adopting this recipe you will be able to edit it, post pictures and add your own notes.

A recipe like this deserves a good home.

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Fresh, bright, and bursting with flavor, these springtime salads are healthy and delicious. Using seasonal ingredients, these spring salads are full of asparagus, radishes, peas, avocados, berries, lemon, and mint – making for one tasty side dish or main meal. Who knew we would love salads so much? Get ready to Pinch these spring salads!

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Combination Pan Roast

Pascal&rsquos Manale is known far and wide as the place where BBQ Shrimp was invented but that&rsquos not all they do well. This bubbly seafood concoction is absolute perfection and will make a nice addition to your holiday table. Enjoy!


  • 8 tbsp. butter
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • 11/2-teaspoon salt
  • 6 tbsp. flour
  • 1 pint raw oysters (oyster water reserved)
  • 1lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • ½ lb. claw crabmeat
  • ½ lb. lump crabmeat
  • 6 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs, plus 2 tbsp. for topping
  • ¼ cup shrimp stock
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add lasagna sheets and cook until just al dente. Using tongs remove pasta from water and transfer to a cutting board. Cut pasta into 8-inch squares and return to pot of hot water off heat.
  2. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan. Add bell pepper, onion and green onion. Sauté until translucent. Sprinkle on salt, white pepper and flour. Cook together for 3-4 minutes.
  3. In a food processor or blender, puree oysters and shrimp. Add to pot and stir together and remove from the heat.
  4. Add crabmeat and parsley. Stir in breadcrumbs. Moisten mixture with oyster water and shrimp stock as needed.
  5. Pour mixture into a baking pan and top with more breadcrumbs. Bake at 350-degrees for 20-25 minutes. Finish under the broiler, for a brown, crispy crust.

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*Recipe* Grand Central Seafood Pan Roast

On our recent journey eating our way through New York City, not surprisingly, many of the “old school” classic dishes were show stoppers. I suppose they would kinda have to be to have survived so long, huh? There was one in particular, a standout, long time NYC favorite that I can’t stop thinking about – the Grand Central Seafood Pan Roast at Grand Central Oyster Bar in the basement of Grand Central Terminal. It’s such a simple, yet, decadent, dish – fresh seafood enhanced by a lightly sweet, smooth, creamy and flavorful sauce/broth. I’m not sure why it’s called a “roast” other than the fact that maybe all the other cool seafood dish names were taken.

Anyways, I did my best to re-create the Grand Central seafood pan roast and, while there’s never a substitute for the original, I think you’re gonna be pretty happy with this one. Here’s my Left Coast spin on an East Coast favorite. If you never had a seafood pan roast, you should, and this is a pretty darn good representation if I do say so. Don’t forget to make some homemade pickled onions to go with this. They’re great on the side or as a garnish!

Oyster Pan Roast

Johnny's Half Shell offers this as a main course at lunch, but it would also make an inspired dinner entree, served with a citrusy green salad to cut the richness of the bacon and cream.

New Orleans-style French bread is the kind that's used for po' boy sandwiches. Look for a loaf that's at least 16 inches long and about the width of a sub sandwich roll -- not a thin baguette. If necessary, use two ciabatta rolls or other good-quality sandwich-style rolls and trim the ends to yield 8-inch-long loaves.

Servings: 4

Slice the bread in half lengthwise, then slice each length into halves, to make four pieces that are each about 8 inches in length. Spread each piece with 1 teaspoon of the butter on the cut side. Griddle the bread in a cast-iron grill pan or other heavy-bottomed pan over medium-low heat until lightly browned. Transfer each piece to a serving plate.

Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a large saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until it sizzles. Increase the heat to high and add the onion, green pepper, celery and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables become translucent, about 3 minutes then add the mushrooms and cook until they become lightly colored, about 2 minutes.

Add the oysters (reserving their liquor), cayenne pepper, thyme and rosemary. Cook until the oysters begin to curl, about 1 minute.

Add the reserved oyster liquor, cream, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce to taste. Cook for several minutes, until the oysters are cooked through and sauce is creamy and coats a spoon. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the mixture over the bread, dividing the oysters equally.

If the oysters are cooked before the sauce is thick enough, remove them from the sauce, placing 6 oysters on each slice of bread. Spoon the sauce over them when it is ready.


  • 3 cups fresh shucked oysters and their liquor (juices)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 1 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 4 sprigs parsley
  • 2 tablespoons worcestshire sauce
  • 2 cups fish stock… (or clam juice, diluted to taste)
  • 3 cups cream
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • Minced chives for garnish


Drain the oysters, strain and reserve the liquid.

Place a large pot over medium high heat. Add half the butter. Swirl and add the vegetable, herbs (tied together) and Old Bay.

When onions are cooked through, but not taking on any gold color, add the oyster liquid and fish stock. Bring to a slow boil and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the cream. Cook, simmering for 4 to 5 minutes, until cream thickens and soup takes on a nice texture and mouth feel when you sip it.

Add the oysters and Worcestershire and return to a gentle simmer. Continue cooking for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, brown the remaining butter in a small saucepan over high heat. Divide soup into large bowls. Garnish stew with paprika, brown butter and some fresh minced chives.


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