If you’re an oyster lover, then you will know and love this old-fashioned oyster stew recipe. It’s elegantly simple and just as good.
When I was growing up, we lived near the Chesapeake Bay. Because of that, we lived on oysters and crab when they were in season. I have many fond memories of these delights. We took them for granted. Sadly much of the oyster population has been decimated from over-harvesting to the point that it’s hard to find the kind of oysters I remember.
For more than a century, the Chesapeake Bay Eastern Oyster was one of the region’s most valuable economic resources. They were, and are, important bivalve filter feeders that naturally clean the water, as well as offering food and habitat for other animals. Over-harvesting, disease and habitat loss have led to a severe drop in the oyster population. The good news is Scientists are working hard to restore the oyster population through proper harvest management, establishing sanctuaries, overcoming the effects of disease, and the restoration of reefs with hatchery-raised (oyster) seed, all to bring them back to their former glory. This effort will also restore other critical natural habitats that depend on these oysters doing what they do best, cleaning the water and providing food.
Regardless, the farm-raised oysters I can get are excellent. I’m more then grateful I can find them. So, as homage to my past and these remarkable little creatures, allow me to share our family’s old-fashioned oyster stew recipe.
Oyster Stew, The Old-Fashioned Way
Ingredients: Makes 3 to 4 servings
- 16 oz. small shucked oysters in their liqueur
- 4 tablespoons butter
- Sea salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- Garnish – Freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
Strain the oysters, separating the whole oysters from their liqueur. Check for bits of shell and sand and discard.
In a heavy 3 ½ to 4-quart saucepan, melt the butter and then add the milk, cream, and oyster liqueur and stir to combine. While stirring, slowly bring the mixture to a simmer and add salt and pepper. Cook on medium low for 1 to 2 minutes until the liquid is simmering hot, but not bubbling. Take care not to bring it to a boil. Check your seasoning; add additional salt and pepper to taste.
Add the oysters; bring the broth back to a simmer poaching the oysters for just a minute or so until their edges begin to curl. When the curls appear, check your seasoning one last time adding additional salt and pepper as needed. Serve the stew immediately. If desired, garnish your stew with a bit of chopped parsley.
Notes: When making this old-fashioned oyster stew, I find the small oysters are always best for their flavor and size. I also prefer buying my oysters from a reputable fishmonger or store. They may be more expensive, but I find they’re worth it. Seasoning this oyster stew to perfection is a process. That’s why I check the seasoning as I go. This helps to balance the seasoning and not overdo the salt and pepper.
This old-fashioned oyster stew is just that simple. It’s all about the oyster flavor and boy is it heavenly. All you need is a few slices of toasted sourdough, a side salad, and you have a fabulous meal.
Now I ask you, if you love oysters what are you waiting for? Get a pint or two and make a pot of this oyster stew and indulge yourself.
Time to eat…
P.S. Take a moment to check out or purchase some of the tools I used for this “Oyster Stew, The Old-Fashioned Way” below. 🙂