Forgotten Food: Oyster Stew

Reading Terminal Market will host Forgotten Foods Festival this Saturday November 12 from 10am-4pm, and Chef Bill is gearing up!  He will showcase a traditional New Orleans dish from days gone by:  Creamy Oyster Stew.   Chef Bill says, “Oyster stew was  a traditional, hearty staple in coastal towns from New England to the Gulf.   My version is a take on the restaurant classic from yester year, which was a popular Thanksgiving first course in New Orleans.”

Oysters, ready to be shucked an transformed into a stew.

Oyster Stew

(6 servings)

28 medium oysters (blue points or wellfleets) shucked- reserve the liquor

1 cup water

6 tsp. unsalted butter, divide 4 tsp and 2 tsp portions
5 tbsp. flour
4 ribs celery, finely minced
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 lg Potato, peeled, small dice
4  Scallions separate green from white, thin bias cuts
1 tsp. kosher salt
1  tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1⁄4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream

  1. Combine oyster liquor with 1 cup water in a 2-qt. saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the oysters and simmer until their edges just begin to curl, about 2 minutes. Strain oysters carefully through a fine sieve set over a medium bowl, reserve oysters and cooking liquid separately.
  2. Heat first larger amount of butter in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium flame.  Add potatoes and cook for 3-4 min, then add celery, garlic, scallions (white part only) and black pepper.  Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon till all vegetables are very soft, about 7-10 minutes. Add the flour, stir till fully incorporated with all other ingredients, about 3 min.
  3. Stir in milk, cream, salt, reserved oysters with their cooking liquid. Cook stirring occasionally, until just hot, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the smaller amount of butter in smaller pieces, stir in till melted and thickened into soup/stew.
  5. Divide stew into 6 equal portions. Garnish with cayenne pepper and the green part of the scallions.

SERVES 6

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