This dish was served all over colonial Virginia because oysters traditionally traveled very well, especially in the cooler winter months. Hams, of course, would have been hung and aging for months, waiting for Holiday celebrations. Warm and filling, this dish was a special favorite of the Founding Fathers and Mothers for Christmas feasts.

Near and Dear


  • 1 ham, precooked
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup sherry
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 dozen oysters, shucked, and their liquid
  • 1 bunch of chives, minced
  • ½ teaspoon catsup
  • 1 bunch parsley, minced, for garnish


  1. Slice the ham thinly.
  2. Combine 3 tablespoons cold butter with flour to make a beurre meunière.
  3. Melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat in a skillet.
  4. Add the minced shallots and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes.
  5. Deglaze the pan with sherry.
  6. Add cream and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Add beurre meunière and whisk to combine.
  8. Finish with catsup.
  9. Simmer over low heat until the oysters have curled and are still soft.
  10. Do not over-cook or the oysters will become hard and rubbery.
  11. Chop the chives and add to the simmering sauce.
  12. Keep warm but do not continue to cook the oysters.
  13. Arrange the ham on a large platter.
  14. Pour the oysters and cream sauce over the ham.
  15. Garnish with parsley.