Monday, November 23, 2009

Creamy Oyster Stew

A roux based oyster stew in cream sauce, a drizzle of hot sauce and garnished with broken saltine crackers and green onion.

Creamy Oyster Stew

It used to be said - and lots of folks still live true to it today - that you should only eat oysters in months that contain the letter "R" in them, that being early spring, but mostly in fall and winter. It's really an old fallback to the days when refrigeration and spoilage were an issue, but there is a bit of truth there in that those "R" months just happen to be when Gulf oysters are at their peak flavor. These days oysters are also farmed, so you can pretty much get good oysters year-round all over the country. Well old folks tale or not, lucky us that we are in an "R" month because down here in the Deep Coastal South, we love our fresh Gulf oysters and they show themselves in many of our holiday dishes, one of them being oyster stew.

My Mama made oyster stew for Daddy all the time, and I loved it too, though I suppose her version was more like a soup than a stew. Made basically of lots of whole milk, and loads of pure butter, and, of course, fresh Gulf oysters. It was one recipe that I never watched Mama make, so when my brother asked me if I had a recipe for it, I had to go searching for one that sounded reasonably close in flavor. Still, there was always something that seemed like it was missing in this stew to me, so when I set out to try to make one of my own to post for Thanksgiving, I decided to incorporate a roux to make it thicker and more "stew-like." Oh boy did it work out! This turned out so creamy, and rich and just downright decadent. But so simple.

I finished it with a drizzle of a combination of Tiger Sauce and Louisiana hot sauce, crumbled saltines, piled right in the middle, and some freshly sliced green onion sprinkled on top. It was a perfect accent to the stew.

Here's how to make it.

This is a cream based stew, so it is important to keep it at a slow simmer throughout this entire process and to avoid allowing it to boil. Slowly warm the milk and half and half in a saucepan. I actually used fat free milk with heavy cream - a pretty funny contradiction - because fat free milk is what we always keep in the house. I imagine whole milk or even a lower fat milk would be even better, and really any combination between milks, half and half and cream would work. In a separate saucepan or skillet over a medium to medium high heat, melt the butter and begin working in the flour a tablespoon at a time to make a roux.

Once all of the flour has been incorporated, let it bubble and cook for about 2 minutes.  Add the chopped yellow onion to the roux and let those cook until softened.

Add the Cajun seasoning and garlic salt; stir in.  I used my favorite brand of Cajun seasoning, Slap Ya Mama, and chose the white pepper blend, but use whatever Cajun seasoning that you like. Reduce the heat to medium to just under medium and begin to slowly add the warmed milk and cream combo to the roux, about one cup at a time...

...until all of the liquid is incorporated, and stirring constantly. Keep control of the heat and don't let it boil.  Drain the oysters, reserving the liquid; set aside the oysters and pour the oyster liquor into the roux mixture.

Add the green onion and slow simmer for about 10 minutes.   Add the oysters to the stew, stir in and cook until the edges of the oysters begin to curl, just a few minutes. These oysters were just the right size to use whole, but if you run across some that are larger, you might want to take some kitchen shears to them and chop them up a bit.

Drizzle the top with hot sauce, sprinkle crumbled saltines on top and garnish with sliced green onion.

This stew would be an excellent addition as a soup course for the Thanksgiving or Christmas table. Enjoy!

Recipe: Creamy Oyster Stew

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 15 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1-1/2 cups of half and half or heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup of finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Slap Ya Mama (or your favorite) White Pepper Blend Cajun seasoning, or to taste, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt
  • 1 pint of oysters, reserving the liquid
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • Tiger sauce and hot sauce, for garnish, optional
  • Crushed saltines, for garnish
  • Fresh sliced green onion, for garnish

Heat the milk and half and half or cream in a medium sized saucepan over a low simmer. You want to slowly warm the mixture so take care not to allow it to boil. Meanwhile, in a separate skillet, melt the butter over medium to medium high heat and start a roux by stirring in the flour, one tablespoon at a time, until fully incorporated. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the Cajun seasoning and garlic salt and stir in. Reduce heat to just under medium.

Slowly begin to add the warmed milk blend to the roux about one cup at a time, and stirring constantly until all of the milk has been incorporated. Do not boil. Drain the oysters, reserving the liquid; set the oysters aside, and stir in the liquid from the oysters (the oyster liquor), bringing it up to a slow simmer. Add the green onion, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the oysters and slow simmer until the edges of the oysters begin to curl. Plate in a nice soup bowl, and drizzle each serving with a bit of hot sauce - I like the combination of Tiger Sauce and Louisiana hot sauce. Crumble a couple of saltines in the center of each bowl and garnish with a sprinkle of fresh sliced green onion. Also very good spooned over homemade mashed potatoes.

Crab Stew: Omit the oysters and substitute a pound of lump crab, picking through for shell.


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Posted by on November 23, 2009

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  1. Slap Ya Mama and Tiger Sauce... You have excellent taste in accents!

    Great recipe, sounds easy enough, got to consider this soon!

    have a great Thanksgiving

  2. This sounds delicious! So Yummy! Have a happy Thanksgiving! :)


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