The Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant Cookbook, Our Cookbook of the Week
Image courtesy Abrams Books
Publishers love to send us cookbooks here at Fork in the Road, and often those books come straight from the chefs at some of New York's best restaurants. So we decided to share the love, and each week, we'll feature a new book, a recipe, and a few thoughts on cooking from the authors. Check back every Tuesday for a new book.
THE GRAND CENTRAL OYSTER BAR & RESTAURANT COOKBOOK By Sandy Ingber with Roy Finamore, 223 pages, Stewart Tabori & Chang, $35
This summer, New York's iconic Grand Central Oyster Bar celebrated its 100th Anniversary in the belly of Grand Central Station, no small achievement in a city that habitually devours new places within months and a single address can be home to five failed restaurants in as many years.
The restaurant is known for shucking a wide wide variety of the freshest oysters and clams and for serving up time-honored dishes like Oysters Rockefeller and Manhattan clam chowder alongside creative seasonal plates showcasing the catch of the day. Chef Sandy Ingber joined Grand Central in 1990 and has helmed the kitchen ever since. In the interview that follows, he dishes on classic Oyster Bar recipes, an esteemed French chef, and his love of crabs.
What is the oldest recipe in the book and where did it come from? The pan roast is the original, from 1913. I actually don't really know the history, but I started in 1990, and since 1973, when [chef] Broady bought the place, the recipe's been on the menu, and I believe throughout all the decades they've always had this recipe. It's one of my favorites.
If you could give one piece of cooking advice to the world, what would it be and why? Eat fish. Fish is a global love for so many people, and it's really one of my biggest pleasures to see how much people love to eat fish.
What cook(s), living or dead, do you most admire and why? I really admire Auguste Escoffier. His work formed the basis for all modern French cooking. Without him, we would never have the kind of techniques we use now-- every dish, even today, even outside of French cooking, still uses his style.
What's your go-to seasonal ingredient right now? Stone crabs. October 15 is the first day fishermen are allowed to go out and fish for them, and even though it's the most expensive thing on our menu, people just love them. I love them too. I'm a real crab lover; they are one of God's great gifts to nature.
What is one unexpected or unique recipe in this book? I love the fish tacos. It's a simple recipe. There are a few steps, but once you have the steps done, putting it together is really easy, and it's a true crowd-pleaser. There are so many different flavors that melt together in this dish, and so many of the fish tacos you see are fried. I just can't stand fried fish tacos.
The cookbook hits bookstores and Amazon.com today, October 15, 2013. On the next page, Ingber shares a classic Oyster Bar recipe.
Grand Central Oyster Bar's Oyster Pan Roast, on the menu since 1913
Photo courtesy Abrams Books
Oyster Pan Roast (Serves 1)
1/4 c clam juice (available in cans or bottles at the grocery store) 1 T unsalted butter 1/2 t Worcestershire 1/4 t celery salt 1/4 t sweet Hungarian paprika, plus additional for garnish 6 extra-select or large East Coast oysters, shucked, with their liquor 3 T Heinz chili sauce 2 c half & half 1 slice white bread, toasted Oyster crackers for serving
Put the clam juice, butter, Worcestershire, celery salt, and paprika in a medium heavy saucepan over high heat. When the butter melts, add the oysters and their liquor and cook, stirring until the oysters become plump and the edges begin to ruffle, about 45 seconds. Stir in the chili sauce and half & half and cook, stirring often, until it is just coming to a boil, about three minutes. Put the toast into a warmed soup plate and pour in the pan roast. Garnish with a shake of paprika and serve immediately, with oyster crackers.
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