Monday, November 23, 2009

Creamy Oyster Stew

A roux based stew of oysters in a cream sauce, is finished with a drizzle of hot sauce and garnished with broken saltine crackers and green onion.
A roux based stew of oysters in a cream sauce, is finished with 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 can hardly make it without thinking of him. My Daddy was 58 when he passed - so young. I'm so sad that he didn't have a little more time in this world. Anyway...

Made basically of whole milk, and plenty of pure butter, or bacon drippings if you prefer, or heck, even a combo of the two, 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 set out to try to make one of my own. Mama's was more on the thin side, so I decided to incorporate a roux to make mine 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 and delicious.

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. If you have some crumbled bacon to top it with, even better.

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. I use whole milk and half and half, or heavy cream if I have it. Slowly warm the milk and cream or half and half in your microwave or a saucepan. In a separate saucepan over a medium to medium high heat, melt the butter or bacon fat 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 {affil link} and chose the white pepper blend, but use white or black pepper, or whatever you prefer. Reduce the heat to 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. Get it to a bubble, but 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 simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the oysters to the stew, stir in and cook until the edges of the oysters begin to curl and the oysters are cooked through, 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.

To serve, drizzle the top with hot sauce, sprinkle crumbled saltines on top and garnish with sliced green onion. I use saltines, because, well, I always have saltines in the house, but some folks like to use oyster crackers. Try my firecracker saltines or seasoned oyster crackers for a nice flavor boost.

This stew would be an excellent addition as a soup course for the Thanksgiving or Christmas table. Here's how to make it.

For more of my oyster recipes, visit my page on Pinterest!

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Posted by on November 23, 2009

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