Chef April Bloomfield hails from Birmingham, England, but in recent years she has risen to the top of the New York food world.
Following a stint at Alice Waters’s legendary Chez Panisse, April opened a New York City gastropub with business partner Ken Friedman, the Spotted Pig, and later, the Breslin, both of which have earned a coveted star from the Michelin Guide. Chef Bloomfield has become known for her embrace of whole-hog cooking – from pig feet to pig ears and everything in between – and also for her ability to mix high-brow and low-brow cuisine using seasonal, local ingredients. This recipe, from Bloomfield’s John Dory Oyster Bar, appears in the new book The Perfect Protein: A Fish Lover’s Guide to Saving the Oceans and Feeding the World, by Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless and Suzannah Evans.
Oyster Pan Roast with Tarragon Toasts
Prep time: 15 minutes | Cooking time: 15–20 minutes
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1⁄4 cup fresh tarragon leaves, minced
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1⁄2 small onion, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1⁄4 cup dry vermouth
- 3⁄4 cup water
- 2 dozen oysters, such as Wellfleet, shucked
- 1⁄4 cup oyster liquor reserved
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 8 baguette slices, toasted
- 1 clove garlic
In a medium mixing bowl, mix the butter with the tarragon and 1⁄2 teaspoon of the lemon juice. Season with salt to taste. Set aside. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and minced garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until translucent and softened. Add the vermouth (carefully; it may flame) and increase the heat to medium high.
Simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, or until reduced by half. Add the water and reserved oyster liquor and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the cream and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens enough to coat a spoon. Remove from the heat. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Season with salt. Add the oyster meat to the sauce. Cook over medium-low heat for 2 minutes, or until cooked and warmed through.
While the oysters are cooking, assemble the toasts. Lightly rub the baguette slices with the whole garlic clove. Spread each toast with the reserved tarragon butter. Serve immediately.
I have tried this recipe myself (I try all the recipes I post if they’re not mine, and give credit where it’s due) and I can tell you that, aside from raw and fresh from the water, this is the best way I’ve ever eaten oysters. There’s only 2 months left of oyster season – get your eat on!