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Thomas Downing-Inspired NYC Oyster Pan Roast

Thomas Downing-Inspired NYC Oyster Pan Roast 6.000

Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post

Sep 23, 2016

Named after a freed African American from Virginia who relocated to New York, this dish celebrates the legacy of Thomas Downing, who opened an oyster restaurant on the city's Broad Street. He and his son housed escaped slaves in their basements as part of the underground railroad.


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Tested size: 6 servings

  • 12 baguette slices, for serving
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 of them melted
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 dozen freshly shucked oysters, preferably from the Chesapeake Bay, plus 1 cup oyster liquor
  • 3 tablespoons Heinz chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Generous 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Arrange the baguette slices flat on a baking sheet and brush the tops of each one using the tablespoon of melted butter. Bake (middle rack) for 12 to 16 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in the shallot; cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until tender, then add the wine; increase the heat to medium and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until that liquid has reduced by half. Stir in the oyster liquor and cook just long enough for the mixture to begin bubbling at the edges.

Add the chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce and cream, stirring to blend well. Cook for 2 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium-low; add the oysters and stir to coat. Cook for 2 minutes, being careful not to overcook them.

Gently stir the Tabasco sauce and the remaining tablespoon of butter into the saucepan until thoroughly incorporated. Remove from the heat.

To serve, place 6 oysters into each wide, shallow bowl, then ladle the chili cream sauce over each portion. Garnish each with 2 baguette slices.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from a recipe developed by Albert Lukas, supervising chef at the Sweet Home Cafe in the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (not including baguette slices): 260

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 21g 32%

Saturated Fat: 12g 60%

Cholesterol: 115mg 38%

Sodium: 330mg 14%

Total Carbohydrates: 9g 3%

Dietary Fiber: 0g 0%

Sugar: 5g

Protein: 8g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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