Years ago Jon and I were enjoying dinner at one of the finer establishments here on the island. The couple sitting behind us were visiting the area – and not yet acquainted with oyster stew when they saw it on the menu. When they asked the waitress what exactly it entailed, she replied in a thick Chincoteague accent with “Honey – it’s oysters. With a little bit of milk in it”…
Jon and I both laughed – because seriously, how could you not know what it was? And also, her reply was so cut and dry – and perfectly summed up oyster stew. I still think about it and chuckle every time I see it on the menu!
Last week the good folks at Cherrystone Aqua Farms were kind enough to send me a box full of oysters and clams. They’re started shipping these Eastern Shore of Virginia delights all over the country recently, so if any of my friends are looking for a taste check them out. I’m picky about my bivalves, and I can’t rave enough about everything that they offer.
Of course we love to enjoy them as is on the half shell, that happened approximately three minutes after the box arrivied. But I wanted to make something I could take a photo of and share with you guys. Not that photos of just oysters aren’t pretty…I love those too, obvi.
But, I’ve been needing to get more oyster recipes up. And, with being stuck at home with nothing to do besides cook – it was the perfect opportunity to get another one under the belt here at Tide & Thyme!
We had rainy weather for most of the weekend, so I figured it was the perfect opportunity for a batch of oyster stew. Ashamed I didn’t have this on the blog yet, as it’s one of the most Eastern Shore-y of all Eastern Shore dishes. It’s simple, quick, comforting and very filling.
Just like everything else, everyone has their favorite way of preparing it. I like to use heavy cream instead of milk, because why not? I love the combination of the rich cream and the plump briny oysters. I also add some minced celery, which is pretty conventional – and some minced shallot, which isn’t.
Don’t be afraid to make it your own, just don’t go too crazy. You want to let the flavor of the oyster shine in this simple stew!
Creamy Oyster Stew
4 Tbsp butter
2 stalks celery, minced
1 shallot, minced
2 cups heavy cream
12 oysters, shucked – meat and liquor reserved
Fresh ground black pepper
Oyster crackers or saltines
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add celery and shallot, and cook until softened – about 4 minutes.
Gently pour in cream, and bring to a simmer. Add oysters and their liquid into pan, and reduce heat to low. Simmer until oysters plump up and the edges begin to curl; about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve immediately, garnished with a sprinkle of fresh parsley and oyster crackers.