Chop House Spaghetti

James Beard

Author and Educator

The London Chop House was a Detroit dining institution during the 1940s and 1950s, and a favorite of James Beard’s.


  • 1 dozen large or 2 dozen small oysters, fresh or canned
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onions
  • 1 cup white wine, oyster liquor, or clam juice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3/4 pound spaghetti
  • Fresh basil, chopped


Chop oysters or leave them whole, as you wish. (Beard preferred his chopped.) Save any liquor from the oysters. Melt butter and olive oil in a skillet, add garlic and onions, and sauté until wilted and just beginning to turn golden. Add the oyster liquor plus enough clam juice or white wine to make 1 cup liquid. (If you don’t have any oyster liquor, use 1/2 cup clam juice and 1/2 cup white wine.) Cook this down for 2 to 3 minutes, until it’s reduced by nearly half, then add parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, have ready a large pot of rapidly boiling salted water to cook your pasta. Boil the spaghetti rapidly until it reaches the stage of tenderness you like. I like mine al dente, that is, a little chewy. Drain well. Toss oysters in the sauce just enough to heat them through. Add more chopped parsley and a touch of fresh basil. Divide the pasta among 4 plates, spoon the oyster sauce over it, and serve at once.


4 servings