Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Return of Oysters and Countdown til Cookbook Release

If any food item has the power to bring me back from the blogging wastelands -- it would have to be the oyster. The return of cooler weather down South(and consequently cooler waters)always heralds the return of oyster for me. I enjoy every preparation -- on the half shell, fried in po boy, or poached in my father's oyster stew.

Devotees of the blog certainly know Papa's Oyster Stew as I always return to my ultimate comfort food. But for those of you newcomers I wanted to share the recipe one more time. We are currently featuring it at the Glass Onion, and it will be published in our cookbook a few weeks from now. Stay tuned to our website and social media pages for updates on the cookbook release party here at the restaurant.

Papa's Oyster Stew

Growing up, every holiday season my father and I would go buy a Christmas tree together, and then we would buy quarts of freshly shucked oysters to make his famous stew while trimming the tree. Freshly shucked oysters may seem a bit incongruous if you remember that my hometown is the extremely inland hamlet of Columbus, Georgia. But my father's good friends, the Lunsfords, owned Rose Hill Seafood, where they brought in oysters straight from Apalachicola, Florida. The flavor of those oysters, and especially this stew, is the flavor of my childhood.

1 quart shucked oysters and their liquor
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups chopped onion (about 1 medium onion)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
Oyster crackers, for garnish

Place the oysters in a colander set over a bowl to drain off liquor. Reserve liquor and oysters.

Melt butter in a medium pot over medium heat. When foam subsides, add the onions, salt, and pepper. Cook until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the reserved oyster liquor and cook until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the milk and cream; bring to a simmer. Add the oysters; cook until their outer edges begin to curl, about 5 minutes. Serve hot with oyster crackers.

YIELD: About 4 entree servings

P.S. The stew might require more salt, depending on the salinity of the oysters, but it is best not to oversalt at the outset.

P.P.S. I love a lot of black pepper in creamy dishes like this stew, but feel free to use less than the recommended 2 teaspoons if your palate is sensitive to spice.

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