A Small Loaf with Oysters

This recipe represents a type of presentation using dinner rolls as a serving dish. There were many variations on this basic idea. Asparagus, mushrooms, ham, sausage, and even chocolate were all used as fillers in these recipes. Here, rolls are paired with another classic ingredient found in the Chesapeake: oysters.

18th Century

TAKE some Chibbols, Parsley, and Mushrooms, cut small, and toss them up with a little Butter; put in the Oysters, season them with pounded Pepper, sweet herbs, and all spices, leave them with a little Flour, and add a little Cullis or Essence; then take your small French Loaves, make a little Hole in the Bottom, take out the Crum, without hurting the Crust, fill them with your Oyster ragout, and stop the Holes with the Crust taken off; place your Loaves so filled in your dish, with a little Cullis or Gravy over them, let them get a Colour in the Oven, and serve them up hot for a dainty Dish.

LaChapelle, The Modern Cooks and Complete Housewife’s Companion, p.414.

21st Century

  • 4 hard crusted rolls (such as French or Portuguese rolls)
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1 Tbsp. butter or vegetable oil
  • 2 pints of oysters
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • salt
  • pepper
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. allspice
  1. Sauté mushrooms, shallots, and parsley in butter until soft.
  2. Add oyster liquor and spices and cook until hot.
  3. Add flour to the mixture and cook until thick. Take the pan off the heat and add the oysters. Cover the pan and set aside. The oysters will cook gently off the heat.
  4. Cut a small circle in the bottom of each bread roll and lift it out to use later as a plug. Using your finger or small knife, gently hollow out the interior without puncturing the outer crust.
  5. Fill rolls with oyster mixture; replace bread circle.
  6. Place in pan, plug side down, and bake in a 350°F oven until brown.
  7. Serve immediately.

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6 Responses to “A Small Loaf with Oysters”

  1. August 31st, 2011

    carolina says:

    We made these one year during my “Fireside Feasts” historic cooking workshops at Brooklyn’s (NY) Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum. We used Hannah Glasse’s receipt from her cookbook “The Art of Cookery” (1747). I’d made the French rolls in advance (at home). Very delicious! They sure didn’t stay on that plate for long. HUZZAH!

    • August 28th, 2012

      Richard says:

      What is oyster liquor?

      • August 29th, 2012

        Historic Foodways says:

        Good question. Oyster liquor refers to the natural liquid that comes from the oyster when it is shucked. It is lightly slimy and a little cloudy. When you buy jarred oysters, it is the liquid that comes out with the oysters themselves.

  2. February 5th, 2015

    Carolyn Tillie says:

    I beg to differ with “Historic Foodways” response; when one buys jarred oysters, there is very little liquor left as the oysters have been cleaned with fresh water to remove shell bits and THAT is what is in the jars.

    • February 9th, 2015

      Historic Foodways says:

      Dear Carolyn,
      We agree that it is much better to shuck the oysters yourself and get the liquor that way, but we also realize that few cooks will go through the trouble, so the liquid in the jar will have to serve as oyster liquor in that case.
      Thanks for writing in,

  3. December 22nd, 2015

    Doug Deaton says:

    Hi Folks!
    Having been an aficionado of all things oyster, I learned as a child that there always had to be scalloped oysters on the table for Christmas dinner as they were my Dad’s favorite. While shucking would produce more “natural” liquor, there is another way. As Carolyn has mentioned that sometimes there’s not that much liquid in the container when purchasing oysters that are cleaned and “bottled”.. but there is way to increase the liquor. I always make sure that all the sand and grit is gone as I put the liquor through a fine strainer, then add (depending on the recipe I’m making) about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of clam juice, and let the juices “marry” (with all the oysters) in a sealed container in the fridge for an hour or two. Then there will be enough flavored liquor for any recipe you may have. I have been know to include some of this concoction in my oyster stew after sauteing the shallots and celery in butter prior to adding the oysters. I plan on doing this again for Christmas Eve in a couple of days. Great memories! YUM! (Hope this little trick helps.)

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