J&L Oyster Stew

“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 hearty South Louisiana dish will give any New England chowder a run for the money!

Oyster Stew

It’s best if you use 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.On medium-low heat, melt butter in heavy pot, then sauté green onions and celery.  Take care not to burn the butter.

Oyster Stew served

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?

Maybe this dish will make it onto your holiday table? If not, it’s still worth a try with our delicious fresh, Louisiana oysters.

BW

oyster-stew
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Oyster Stew
Prep Time
15 mins
Total Time
1 hr 30 mins
 
A beautiful creamy stew made with fresh Louisiana oysters.
Servings: 6
Author: J & L
Ingredients
  • 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 in Mushrooms sliced and cut half
  • 4 in Artichoke bottoms cut small pieces
  • 1 Quart Half & Half 'Cream'
  • Tony Chacere's Cajun Seasoning optional
Instructions
  1. On medium-low heat, melt butter in heavy pot, then sauté green onions and celery. Take care not to burn the butter.

  2. Add flour one tablespoon at a time, stirring well, dissolving lumps each time, making a white roux (not brown).

  3. 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 quart. of Half and Half is not enough.

  4. Add a couple spoons of oyster water, and stir. Alternate oyster water and cream until you have a nice chowder-type base.

  5. Add black pepper and Tony Chachere's to taste. Taste and add salt if needed.

  6. 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.

  7. Lastly, add the oysters and cook only a few minutes more. The edges of the oysters will curl, like lace, when they are done.

Recipe Notes

Garnish with fresh parsley and serve promptly with fresh French bread and salad.
*Serves 6 as appetizer or soup course. Serves 4 as main course.

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Comments

J&L Oyster Stew — 56 Comments

  1. Thanks for posting this! I’ve been looking for a new soup du jour. There’s a half sack of fat salty oysters in my ice chest right now. This is my 10th sack this fall/winter so I’m really looking for some different recipes for them.

    So far its been on the half shell, broiled Rockerfeller, broiled with a slice of fresh tomato with andouille and smoked cheddar, and broiled in white wine with butter, shallots, garlic and lemon. I slipped a few into some shrimp and corn soup too!

    Tonight it will be Jackie’s oyster stew for an appetizer then trout picatta and a green salad. I’ll try it with some fat free half and half. We will see.

    C’est si bon!!

  2. I am going to try this one,we use the “He Stew” recipe in James Michtners Book “The Cheasapeake” with bacon and topped with Saffron,tomorrow night is seafood night with fried Seabass filets,one Redfish to blacken and Stone Crab claws.

  3. Oysters come with lots of stories….. Ahhhh….. the good old days. I bet you’re surprized…….

    I had Justin Wilson’s recipe which he actually gave to me at Guy Carrie’s Camp, my freshman year at USL. Years later I lost it. I called his daughters (he had passed then), asking for it because my Dad loved it. Best we could figure was that he had given me his Oyster pie recipe because they didn’t remember him ever making stew.

    I don’t make it much anymore for three reasons; first and foremost I never buy bags on the side of the road anymore, I just don’t see them. Second I never have enough left when I get oysters after I satisfy my half shell obsession to get even a pint extra for cooking. AND finally, in the past I never once had a bad oyster, I had a few that didn’t work, but never one that sickened me. In the past 5 years it seems I am paying back for all those years of good oysters. I don’t blame Katrina, I don’t blame BP, I don’t blame the environment, I just don’t go to the coast like I did and some things need to be acquired very close to the source. I wouldn’t order fresh oysters in Kansas City either.

    For those looking for new ideas, have you ever tried grilling half shell oysters on the BBQ grill with a hint of sauce or some butter and garlic?

    En brochette? OMG! Shrimp and Oysters En brochette, it just doesn’t get much better than that in my humble opinion. It’s easy, it’s fast, it’s heavenly, and if you ever want to impress it never fails.

    The perfect meal;
    Cold longneck & cracked crab claws in butter and garlic, ½ doz. Shrimp & Oysters En Brochette, followed with peach bread pudding dark roast coffee w/ Tia Maria & Baileys. It doesn’t matter what you did, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter what you said, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter what you bought, it doesn’t matter, you wrecked my what, who cares?

    But it is so hard to shuck enough to cook with….LOL I keep horse radish fresh in the fridge year round just in case I see an oyster.

    • I forgot and I knew you’d want to know. Have you ever had a fresh oyster Bloody Mary? Not with that canned Bloody Mary mix, either. Just add a few oysters to each glass. They are like little surprize packages of joy when drinking. Don’t forget to add that good oyster liqueur to it. Ya know the Yankees drink Clam-mato juice, think of how good oyster juice would taste in a Bloody Mary.

      • LOL… you are expecting too much here, I told you easy.

        Equal parts shrimp and oysters, some thin bacon (Smithfield works well), and toothpicks.

        You can bake ‘em, or fry ‘em, or grill ‘em.

        First take a pot and some liquid of your choice, wine, water, crab boil, garlic and lemon water, whatever. Boil the liquid, throw in all the shrimp, oysters, bacon, for about a min. and remove. Not cooked but firmed up a little. Take a shrimp, put an oyster with it, wrap in bacon (don’t get carried away here, little is best in my opinion), and stick it with a toothpick, best to stick it thru the shrimp AND oyster, not just the bacon. Then cook, whichever way you want to, till bacon is pretty much done.

        Adjust to however you prefer its doneness.

        Is that hard now or what? People love them and say nice things about what a great cook you are…… LOL

  4. You should try some shooters Foamheart. Small raw oyster, lemon juice, horse radish, and your favorite hot sauce in a shot glass with some good vodka. AAHHHYYYYYEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • We are close!

      Celery salt 1/2 the rim of a large tall glass filled with ice. Double Shot of Absolute Citron, Shot of Beef bouillon, splash of Lea & Perrins, small dash of Tabasco, small spoon of prepared horse radish, fill with tomato juice and leave room for Oyster and juice. If you are a garnish person, Pickled/Spiced green bean garnish.

      AND be ready to lie about how much you drank the night before.

      • I thought I was the only one who liked this drink. Love it, love it, love it!!! I’ll pass on the green bean garnish though. Just hand me a roll of tums after I drink it.

        • Oh yes, I forgot. Use the drink as a base for a shrimp cocktail. Just add some pico and cooked shrimp. Let the shrimp soak up the flavors for a few minutes and serve it chilled. Delicious.

          • Now you’re getting close! I call it ceviche gazpacho. Clamato base with blended veggies and lime juice to “cook” the shrimp and scallops. Served as an ice cold soup.

            • Ceviche; lump crab, black bass, squid/octopus, shrimpers! Lub it!

              First trip down into Mexico I saw the word on the wall in a bar and confussed it with cerveza, I knew I wanted it Frio and the barkeep brought it back in a old drug store malted glass it was completely full. It was one of those lucky mistakes. Its really good, like a glass of seafood salad. Finially the barkeep and I understood what I wanted, but the ceviche got mistakely ordered on purpose quite a few more times. I just decided to drink tequila and not get them confused.

              Not something to trust from street vendors. LOL

              • We have a restaurant (family owned) here that serves this as a shrimp cocktail. I ordered once and learned to make it. It is so very good.

  5. This is a recipe I will pass on to a good friend who loves oysters any way he can get them. He also likes to cook. I, on the other hand eat only small & Fried (crisp). It’s mostly a texture thing for me. Maybe if G.W. makes this I’ll get him to save me a bite. I just can’t purchase oysters, cook them and then throw them away if I can’t get over the texture thing.

  6. I have tried a recipe similar to this that I found in one of my cookbooks but, it didn’t have the artichokes in it. But, it was fabulous and very good. Unfortunately, oysters are a bit out of my budget and the only time I got the fresh ones in the shells, I nearly ripped my hand off trying to shuck them. My husband and I both love our oysters just about any way you fix them or serve them. I miss our Cajun food restaurant. They built a new overpass over the parking lot and about 1 foot from the edge of the building!! Who wants to be in there with all that traffic within touching distance? It shut down.:(

  7. I tweaked Jackie’s recipe a bit. Shucked three dozen fresh oysters from Collins roadside refrigerator in Golden Meadow saving the liquor. Chopped some celery, onion, roasted red pepper, garlic, one turnip (cause thats all I had in the fridge or I’da put two), and finally a half cup of finely chopped tasso. Sauteed them a bit in olive oil. Moved all that aside in the pot to make room for 2 tblsp flour and a bit more olive oil for the blond roux. Deglazed with the liquor and some chicken stock and let it thicken. Seasoned with just a little salt, plenty of black and red pepper and a little hot sauce.

    Added the fat free half and half (a necessary evil for my stoopid diet) and finally the oysters. Cooked til they curled up pretty good. Garnished with chopped scallions. It was a keeper!

  8. I need someone to fill in one of the contact boxes on one of the other pages of this blog and submit. I am changing the email address associated with this blog, and I need to test it out. Could someone do that for me, please?

  9. My mother made oyster stew all the time when we were growing up. She only used the liquor, butter, green onions. The oysters and cream or milk went in at the last minute. Love your version.

  10. Every year for like 70 years was oyster stew in my family at Xmas eve. Lot more milk and butter few veggies other than parsley and mybe a small onion. Not a milk guy so I generally passed on this stuff.

    I love oyster dressing though.

    soup de jour here is beef barley with chuck steaks marinated in wine, cherrypom juice, the Worst, some soy, some montreal stek rub, some bronzeville rub and such as was in fridge door at time. Frozen veggies . V8. quick barley. Steaks were great but I used the 5 leftover ones in the soup.

    Dang I need to blast down there after I figure the furnace crap out to help Choup eat.

    Working on bream poppers in the 12 deg 35 mph winds today.

  11. I can’t believe it – just when I thought I was going to be the only one to report Christmas eve oyster stew, there’s blufloyd pulling in ahead of me! LOL

    It’s really quite a mystery to me. I mean – we did live in Iowa, for heaven’s sake, and there weren’t many oyster reefs around. Not only that, wherever did my dad pick up his taste for oyster stew? It was his thing – Mom never would touch the stuff, but I loved it. She always made oyster stew and chili, just so she’d have something to eat.

    Wish I knew where to get some good oysters around here. I guess I need to call down to one of the local places and see what’s around. I’m not sure I want a Galveston Bay oyster! But I surely would like to give that recipe a try. Yum!

    Oh – we do have a new Cajun restaurant that’s opened up down in Bacliff. They have oysters – and crawfish pie. My appetite is ramping up – not good at 10 p.m.!

    • Well I think it was cause December the trains would bring barrels of oysters to midwest. You know those blue oyster bags? We used to have a 55 gallon wooden oyster barrel on the farm that once was the same sort of blue color. Held cobs on the porch to start the coal stove in kitchen.

      0.5 degrees and 20 mph wind. I got to get out of this place called Illinois.

    • I recall a reference to your family’s Christmas Eve oyster stew, but it really does make sense. Christmas is the time to have those very special things that you only have at that time of year. That’s why I make my mamma’s fudge. Did I know it was so easy back then? NO! Do I still love it at Christmas? YES, too much! We lived in North Louisiana, where oysters don’t come easily, but I remember maybe once a year, Mamma would buy a little plastic pint container of them from Brookshire’s and fry them up for Daddy. I liked them as a child until I made the mistake of biting one in half and looking at the cross section. YUCK! That was it for me until I moved down here and came back to my senses. And one more weird thing about the captain—he will eat them raw all day long, and he’ll eat them fried, but he WILL NOT eat them in a gumbo, soup, or stew. Go figure! And cher, the bayou people even make shrimp spaghetti, and it is mm good!!!

  12. Dang, you all are making me hungry! And my husband was in Munroe for several hours today and didn’t even stop anywhere to get any seafood. Before his company sold out a few years back, he could take a family member on his out of state trips and I always went with him to LA along with a LARGE cooler. That thing came home filled with all sorts of good stuff. But, he passes it all by now.:(

    • And Cammy, I have to wonder how much more seafood costs in north Louisiana than down here at the source. When you talk about oysters not being in the budget, heck, we can get half a sack for $15, and that’s a lot of oysters. I know you tore your hand up shucking, but hey, get your son to learn to shuck. I can do it, so it’s really not that hard if you know the technique! And nothing like a oyster right out of the shell, either! Also, we keep a few dozen of the nicely shaped shells, scrub them and sanitize them and use them for our char-broiled oysters. Oh, I didn’t even go there yet, but maybe I will make some soon and do a post about it!!! (Foamheart touched on it and almost ruined my next oyster dish post!) Maybe I should hold a contest and ship a quart of fresh-shucked oysters to the winner. How does that sound?

      • That sounds good. We have to drive to Dallas for oysters in the shell now. The store here sells the little pint containers of shucked oysters for about $10. I noticed that gulf shrimp is on sale for $12.99. things here are really expensive. That is why I always bought fresh items in LA on those trips. My son doesn’t like oysters and getting him to shuck them would be a chore. Now, if it was crawfish,….that would be entirely different.:)

  13. $15 !!!!!!!! Thats not fair at all! I gotta pay $25. I have a few dozen hand picked shells in my cabinet for Rockerfeller, Bienville, etc. The big ones that actually sit flat are pretty scarce. Scrubbed and ran through the dishwasher, they have lasted as long as dishes do so far.

  14. Try batting your eyes harder next time, Choup. Up to 4 inches snow tonight. Turbo Dog Wild Turkey Rye Shiner…. I might survive the storm.

  15. I’m sure there’s some folks around here that make oyster stew but I’ve never heard anyone talk about it. I’ve never even seen oyster stew.

    Around here, they seldom remain uneaten long enough to end up in a stew; they’re steamed or, occasionally, consumed raw. Some folks batter them up and fry them, which is the only way Mama would touch them.

    Most folks, like my dad, uncles and my brother, steam them, shuck them and eat them until the little rascals squirt out of their ears. They often dip the oysters in a homemade horseradishy, shrimp cocktail type of sauce or just eat them straight. Saltines on the side.

    Oyster roasts are a mainstay of local entertaining in the winter. Most backyard roasts use local oysters, though the local industry is in decline.

    The Lowcountry Oyster Festival was just held out at Boone Hall Plantation last weekend. 80,000 lbs of oysters and they ran out. For an event of that size, they import almost all of the oysters from the Gulf. So, if you’re wondering where all the local oysters went a week ago……

    If you’re in the Charleston area and really want to go old school, a visit to Bowens Island Restaurant is a must. They gather their own oysters, I believe. Bare bones, no fancy fixin’s. Just a table with a hole in the middle to toss the shells and the oysters are brought to the table in shovels and dumped.

  16. Wow we used to go by there when I lived in Charleston in the early 70’s. The beach wasn’t as nice as Foley but was also less crowded. I was a typical bubblehead doing my first tour for Uncle Sam. They sometimes had shrimp boils, but the called it frog stew. Never understood that. LOL. It was also my first experience with Hopin John.

    It was an old pier, a torn up weathered building and everyone back then assumed it was where smugglers off loaded under the stars. There was a lot of that back then. I didn’t say it was true, just we all figured it that way. It was before all the hoop-la over Kiwi Island (or how ever its spelled). Some Arab back then was trying to buy it.

    I just googled it, there is even pictures. I would have sworn it was closer to the intercoastal. That is an old memory remembered, thank you Gue’

        • Foamheart, since you’ve geen googling, you’ve probably discovered that Frogmore Stew is named after the little town of Frogmore, SC. No frogs in the stew! (No offence to frog leg lovers!)

          Folly Beach was just a small family community back in those days. It was not fancy. It was laid back and mellow.

          How cool that you lived here for a while!

          You would not recognize it, or any of the other local beaches. They’re full of condos, McMansions and packed with people from ‘off’.’ The longtime residents are slowly leaving. I haven’t been for years, even though it’s only about 25 minutes from the house. Parking is an issue and it’s wall to wall people in the summer.

          Folly Beach was the last local beach you could drink your beer on the beach. No more. The party buses and loads of drunks put an end to that this past summer.

          Kiawah Island is where that the Arab fellow was in the process of buying up property for development. Have no idea if he’s still involved with it now. Probably not. But who knows? Both Kiawah and Seabrook Islands are now pretty much for well heeled tourists and rich property owners who live elsewhere. Gated communities. Beaches off limits to the public. Just like Hilton Head and Jekyll Islands in GA.

          Bowens Island Restaurant burned a few years ago. They rebuilt and I think the new place is a little fancier than before but it’s still pretty basic. Customers are still encouraged to gouge their names on the tables and graffiti the walls, I think.

          I don’t recall ever hearing anything about smugglers offloading there but who knows what was going on 100-200 years ago.

          Check out Andy Zimmern’s Charleston visit online. There’s some videos. He went out to Bowens.

    • Bowens was on the Folly River. I don’t think it’s a true river; it’s just the waterway that separates Folly Island (and the beach) from James Island.

      • The fact that you could bring your refreshments and consume them at Foley beach was not lost on us…. LOL You couldn’t do that at Isle of Palms and I even lived there one off crew. I still have old shipmates who retired to Monks Corner, so occassional I get an update.

        IMHO one of the wonders of Charleston was the gulls at the battery. They had that steel post fense around the water side of the park…… it always amazed me watching the gulls land on them. One would land knocking one off, he flew to the next pole knocking one off, which flew to the next pole etc.etc….. Never did one knocked off fly away or jump over the next pole. It started at one end and went the entire length, and it continued all afternoon long……. It doesn’t take alot to amuse a sailor…LOL

        I really enjoyed the area, low country cooking was much better than it was in Groton Conn. you guys used spices on your seafood almost like home. I was home based in Spain and flew back an forth out of Charleston. I was pretty lucky I figured with how my duty assignment worked. Spain was Ok for a month or two out of a year, but ……. It didn’t even have Hamburgers, besides those girls in South Carolina were pretty cute.

        BTW when I went to Bowen’s you really didn’t worry about the parking, you had to worry if the boats were docked, no boats we’d go somewhere else.

  17. I remember a place called Folley Beach, but it was a manmade beach on the shores of Lake D’arbonne in Farmerville, LA. Spent many an hour there hanging out and water skiing in the summers of 1975-77.

  18. Ah, I never did tell you what pot of soup was on my stove. It’s my Root Soup.

    Potato, turnip, rutabaga, parsnip, carrot, a little cabbage, a small yellow squash, a hand full of fresh green beans, onion, celery, large can of diced tomatoes, 1 can mild Rotel, 2 large containers of veggie broth, all cooked down with the remains of the Christmas ham bone. Some salt, cayenne flakes, whatever Mrs Dash is in the cabinet and/or any other seasoning that strikes your fancy.

    • Sounds marvelous! Last week I also made beans soup from the holiday ham bone!!! Mine was just bean soup–12 bean I think but I really didn’t count all the different beans, LOL!

  19. Anytime my Grandmother was gone overnight my Grandfather would make a big batch of oyster stew like he learned to love in the Navy. I used to go with him to buy the oysters and watch him make it but since he has been gone I haven’t even tried it. We weren’t usually able to find fresh oysters here in the 90’s in Oklahoma but he had a friend in the restraunt business who would have a seafood night once a month and he would try to buy some fresh ones from him if he could. We were the only 2 who would eat but that was just fine, we didn’t like to share! I will have to try this recipe.

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