Oyster Salsify Stew

Growing up, John Adams was in the St. Paul's church choir, along with his entire family, which meant a Christmas Eve spent singing. "We would always have dinner between the Lessons and Carols and the midnight service," he says. That's when his grandma would serve oyster stew, along with ham loaf and rye bread. The original was simply milk, butter and oysters, with oyster crackers. Now John carries the culinary baton on Christmas Eve. His version of oyster stew, available in various incarnations on Bluebeard's winter menu, calls for bacon, a root vegetable like salsify or celery root puréed with white wine, and shaved white truffles for extra decadence. In a nod to Grandma's pairing, John sometimes serves ham pâté alongside the stew.
By / Photography By Kelley Jordan Heneveld | December 15, 2012


1. In a 12-quart pot, render bacon on low heat for 10 minutes. Remove bacon, leaving the fat in the pan.

2. Bring pot to high heat and add shiitakes, then season with salt and pepper.

3. Remove mushrooms, lower heat and add the salsify, celery, onions, leeks and garlic and sweat for 20 minutes.

4. Drain liquor from the oysters. Add oyster liquor, chicken stock, bacon and shiitakes to the vegetables. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then add the cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Right before serving, add oysters to the simmering liquid. Lower heat and poach oysters for 2–3 minutes, depending on their size. Stir in the scallions.

6. Ladle into bowls and garnish with parsley, truffle oil and cracked black pepper

Related Stories & Recipes


  • 1 pound bacon, diced small
  • 2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms, destemmed
  • 4 pounds salsify, peeled and diced small
  • 1 head celery, diced small
  • 2 sweet onions, diced small
  • 2 leeks, white part only, rinsed well, diced small
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 gallon shucked oysters, abductor muscles removed
  • 4 cups chicken stock (homemade preferred)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 bunch scallion, thinly sliced
  • Italian parsley, chopped, for garnish
  • Truffle oil, for garnish
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
Build your own subscription bundle.
Pick 3 regions for $60