“He was a brave man who first ate an oyster.” Even if you are a bit like me and not sure you care for oysters any other way than fried, let me prod you to muster up a little bi-valve courage and broaden your oyster horizons with this tasty winter-time dish.
Now is the season to prepare oysters to your heart’s desire and tastebuds’ content. In spite of recent negative press about the safety of our seafood, there are indeed places in coastal Louisiana where the harvest is plentiful, and the oysters are succulent as ever.
Recently, I had the honor of dining with some friends at Jackie’s Oarhouse Camp down on Bayou Dularge, in lower Terrebonne Parish. Never have I eaten an oyster there I didn’t like—nay, even love. They fry them, grill them, charbroil them, and cook them in seafood gumbo. Most recently, I observed them making an old-fashioned oyster stew, the likes of which I had never tasted.
Here is the recipe my friends shared with me in great detail, which I hope you will try and enjoy as much as I did. This delightful and hardy South Louisiana dish will give any New England chowder a run for the money!
J & L Oyster Stew
~ Ingredients ~
First you will need about a quart of fresh oysters AND the oyster water (or liquor) in the container. Nothing will substitute for the rich salty flavor of the natural oyster juices, which may be the secret to the earthiness of this soul-warming soup.
1 Qt. oysters in their natural water
4 T. Salted butter
4 T. Self-rising flour
Fresh ground pepper
3 Green onion tops, chopped small
2 Celery stalks, chopped small
3 Mushrooms, sliced and cut in half
4 Artichoke bottoms, cut in small pieces
1 Quart Half & Half*
On medium-low heat, melt butter in heavy pot, then sauté green onions and celery. Take care not to burn the butter.
Add flour one tablespoon at a time, stirring well, dissolving lumps each time, making a white roux-type base (not brown).
Add half and half in small amounts at a time, stirring until smooth each time, being careful not to scorch the cream. (*Milk may be added if 1 Qt. of Half and Half is not enough.)
Add a couple spoons of oyster water, and stir. Alternate oyster water and cream until you have a nice chowder-type base.
Add black pepper and Tony’s to taste. Taste and add salt if needed.
Once you have the base seasoned as you like and piping hot all the way through, add the mushrooms and artichokes, stirring and heating through again.
Lastly, add the oysters and cook only a few minutes more. The edges of the oysters will curl, like lace, when they are done.
Serve promptly with fresh French bread and salad. Serves six as an appetizer or four as an entree`.
Of course, when this was cooked, the temps were cooler. We’ve just had a few days of unbelievable heat, gnats, and midges for this time of year. Can the rest of the country believe that we ran the air conditioner the last couple of days and nights?
It’s raining now, and maybe that will usher in any cold front, when the cold should have already settled in for the winter.
So, please tell us, what’s in YOUR soup pot this week?
Raindrops falling on my head,