oysters gratin

oysters gratin on leeks

I had this oyster gratin recipe on the back of my mind since I had them at lunch at the Foodbarn two Fridays ago. Franck made these oysters as part of his first course, and I was sent straight to heaven. As one of the most generous chefs I know, he has very kindly given me the recipe and talked me through how to make it on the phone.

oysters gratin on a bed of leeks

This is what they looked like at the Foodbarn.

Franck Dangereux oysters

If you in any way need to make friends, impress people or seduce a lover this is the perfect recipe for you.

It’s quite a cheffy dish, but I have tried to make it as accessible to the home cook as possible, and let me assure you, it’s worth all the effort to make it. Franck makes it en masse in the restaurant, but I have altered the quantities down.

I used a crisp dry Sauvignon Blanc for the recipe, but you could use bubbly.

Makes 12 oysters

  • 12 large oysters
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) oyster juice (as they are shucked)
  • 1 cup of dry white wine / champagne / Cap Classique
  • 1 1/2 cups of cream
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 300g trimmed leeks, cut into thin julienne
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 50g butter
  • salt and pepper

Shuck the oysters and retain the juice that comes out of them. I got 1/3 of a cup. Strain the juice. Loosen the oysters from the shell and set them aside. Wash and dry the shells.

Bring the wine and oyster juice to the boil, and poach the oysters in the liquid for 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Strain the liquid into a clean pot, add 1 cup of the cream and allow this to simmer until it reduces by half. This will take around 20 – 30 minutes.

While the sauce is reducing, heat the olive oil in a pan and add the leeks and butter. Saute until they are soft, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Beat the remaining 1/2 cup of cream until stiff peaks, and in a separate bowl beat the 2 egg yolks. Fold the beaten egg into the cream. *This forms the ‘gratin mix’, and you will have more than required for the recipe, but I found it easier to whip a slightly larger quantity of cream. You could adjust to 80ml cream and 1 egg yolk if you prefer zero waste.

When the sauce has reduced allow it to cool, where it will further thicken. When cool, scoop out half a cup of the whipped cream/egg mixture and stir this through the sauce.

To prepare the pan, scrunch up a few sheets of tin foil on a baking pan and place the washed and dried shells on top. You want them to stand level and face up so that the liquid does not fall out. Fill each shell with about a teaspoon of leek mixture, top with a poached oyster, and then fill the shell with as much of the sauce as you can.

Place under a hot grill/broiler, until it just starts to go brown and bubble.

Serve immediately with a glass of dry white wine or bubbly, and knock the socks off your guests.

oysters gratin on leeks




  1. Hey Sam, they look flippen delicious. Have a fab time in Knysna.

  2. Thanks Pete, They were flippen delicious, and I think I got it to the same standard as Chef 🙂

  3. One of my favourite delicacies. We’re planning on going to the oyster festival.
    I prefer my oyster with just a tad of tobasco, a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper. Doesn’t get better than that. But I’m definitely trying your recipe.

    My husband’s first encounter with oysters wasn’t a good one. It was a couple of years back at the The Good Food & Wine show, when it was still held at the Good Hope Centre.
    I order 6 oyster and bubbly for each of us. He was hungover after an allnight drinking spree. So the first oyster didn’t even make it to his tummy. So I had all the rest and the bubbly. He was green (sick) for the rest of the day. I took him quite some time to get used to the taste without being reminded of that terrible first encounter. But he has been converted to an avid oyster eater now.

  4. I need to muster enough courage to try oysters. You styled and captured it so temptingly, my friend 🙂 Have a great time at Knysna 🙂

  5. I have a ‘pearler’ for you Sam. One year at the Knysna Oyster Festival, we were ordering oysters by dozen and the wine was flowing. Only one member of our group declined to try the oysters, that is until they were served Kilpatrick, turns out her ex was a Patrick. Oh shucks – how we laughed!

  6. Liz Thomas says:

    Oh Sam, another blast from the past. I once camped at Knysna in the mid ’70’s. I can imagine how much it has changed. Please!! Can I come with you!! I hope you have a really good time and can’t wait to read all about it. Love cooked oysters and your recipe sounds wonderful. Must try!


  7. Melanie du Toit says:

    As a result of having parents that live in Knysna and me having spent a large amount of my younger years growing up at the coast, I have a huge weakness for any kind of seafood – but any kind of shell fish in particular. The first (and sadly – one of few) times that I have joined in on the oyster part of the festival fun, occurred when I had a rather large shooter glass shoved into my hand that contained an oyster, tobasco sauce, black pepper and was topped up to the brim with vodka. I managed to slug this down although I don’t think it did the oyster or the vodka any justice. Hoping to try nicer oyster and alcohol (preferably wine) combinations at this year’s festival. See you there, Sam! 🙂

  8. Hi Sam, I really like your recipe and how you presented it. Oysters aren’t my favourite seafood but my
    fiancé loves them so much that I will prepare them again soon. Definitely, I’m going to try your recipe which will become my next post. Last October I served marinades Oyster, did you tried them?. After I saw your post, I am sure that I can change my mind about oysters.

  9. Hi Alessandra, yes, I love marinaded oysters, another really good way to eat them. If you are unsure of raw, this recipe will definitely change that for you.

  10. The winner of the Flavours Tickets is Billy Gee. Well done and see you there.

  11. Doné Else says:

    We always came to Knysna on holiday when I was young and I would remember every detail about it. Small things like who would see the lagoon first etc, Had my first Oyster when I was around 9. Did not think much of it and pulled the most wonderful face. However I have fallen in love with Knysna and been here 16 years.

  12. Kevin Ryan says:

    Leeks cut into ‘think’ Julienne – ?

    I like the look of those, but usually have my oysters raw

  13. Hi Kevin – obviously a typo and obviously thin julienne :-).

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