Gratin of Oysters with Leeks and Chardonnay

12:22 am on 10 March 2009

(serves 4)


  • 12 large fresh Bluff oysters (selled and stored in their juices)
  • 2 small leeks
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • salt
  • cayenne pepper
  • 350 mls chardonnay
  • 350 mls cream
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • To garnish:
  • fresh chives
  • puff pastry crescent (optional)


Pre-heat the grill to hot.

Wash and slice the leeks finely. Heat the butter in a small pan with the salt and cayenne pepper and seat the leeks over a gentle heat for about 4 minutes or until tender and juice has evaporated. Divide the leeks evenly into four ramekins or individual shallow serving dishes. Set aside.

To make the sauce, pour half the chardonnay into a small pan. Add the juices of the oysters and boil to reduce by two thirds. Add half the cream and boil again until it has achieved a rich sauce consistency. Check the seasoning and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Set aside keeping warm.

Whip the remaining cream until it is stiff and place in the fridge.

To heat the oysters, place the remaining Chardonnay in a small pan with a little salt and bring to the boil. Immediately tip in the oysters, leave for only 10 seconds and then remove pan from the heat. Let the oysters continue to poach off the heat for another 30 seconds – just enough to set them.

Remove the oysters from the liquid and drain on a couple of paper towels.

Quickly arrange the oysters on top of the leeks and keep warm. (Don’t let the oysters get too hot or they will become rubbery.)

To serve, bring the cream sauce back to the boil and add some snipped chives. Fold in the whipped cream very roughly with a metal spoon and then spoon this sauce over the oysters. Place the plates under a hot grill and watch carefully. After about one or two minutes, the cream will have browned. Sprinkle over a few more chives and serve immediately.

Stephen Morris’s wine recommendation

Westbrook (4th generation, family owned, Auckland based) Barrel Ferment Chardonnay 2006 from Marlborough. Chardonnay like it used to be made. Big full and creamy.

With a bit more fruit, but still rich and creamy: Te Kairanga "Casarina" Chardonnay 2006.

And for a bit more restraint, but still a good mouthful of chardonnay and winemaker smarts: Palliser Estate 2007.

Oysters au naturel go well with dry manzanilla sherry - buy La Gitana! - Guiness (especially as the 17th is fast approaching) or even, a whisky. Go for something peaty and from the Island of Islay!  Ardbeg have recently released a softer, less peated version of their whisky, called Blasda. Dilute it well and taste the sea water echo through both whisky and oysters.

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