This rich and creamy Classic Oyster Stew is made with fresh, plump, briny oysters. Just the thing to warm you up on cold evenings.
The recipe I’m sharing with you today is one that I always think of when the weather turns cold. In my opinion, late fall and the early part of winter is the time of year when fresh oysters are at their best in the southeast.
Especially if you can get your hands on some Apalachicola Bay oysters. Small, sweet, plump, and with a mild saltwater taste, they’re simply the best oysters in the world.
Unfortunately, the future of those special oysters is threatened right now. Their ecosystem is in peril but people are working really hard to try to save it. I’m wishing them all the best in doing that.
Love Some Raw Oysters!
When I was much younger, we’d go to a local oyster bar in town to have oysters raw on the half shell. Rural southern oyster bars are not fancy places.
My favorite one had a screen door, a bar that would seat three folks on wooden stools, and one table with four straight-back wooden chairs. You’d wait your turn to sit at the bar where fresh oysters were shucked and served right in front of you.
The accompaniments? Soda crackers, hot sauce and, if you insisted, cocktail sauce. Take a shucked oyster. Place it on top of your cracker. Add a drop or two of hot sauce and inhale the whole thing in one bite. I’ve been known to down two dozen in a sitting.
They’re Also Great in a Stew
Besides enjoying them in their natural, raw state they are also delectable when battered and deep fried. Or you can take a slightly more refined approach and make them into this creamy, luscious oyster stew.
Be sure to use a pint of the freshest oysters possible. Ask the fish seller to hand shuck them if possible or bring them home and do that task yourself. Try to avoid the oysters in the plastic container at the grocery store. Lord only knows where they came from and how long they’ve been in that refrigerator case.
How to Make Oyster Stew
Place all the ingredients except the milk in a saucepan.
Be sure to include the liquid the oysters are packed in (also known as oyster liquor). Or, if you’re shucking your own fresh, be sure to catch the liquid that’s inside the shells as you open the oysters.
Heat the mixture over medium-low heat until the edges of the oysters just begin to curl. This takes about 10 minutes and should not be rushed. Be sure to keep the heat fairly low and stir frequently.
In another saucepan, scald the milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half. When the edges of the oysters have curled, add the scalded milk to the oyster mixture and stir well.
If you’re wondering what’s meant by “scald” by the milk, it’s really simple. Place the milk, heavy cream, or half and half in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir frequently until you see bubbles begin to form around the edges of the milk and it starts to steam. Technically, milk is scalded when it reaches 170 degrees if you want to be precise and use a thermometer but that’s not necessary.
Serve immediately with oyster crackers and additional Tabasco if desired. Would also be great with some warm, buttered honey wheat bread on the side.
The most likely causes of a curdled oyster stew are either heating the milk too quickly or adding cold milk into warm ingredients. Be sure to warm the milk slowly following the tip above for scalding milk before adding it to the stew.
Oyster stew is best served while still piping hot from stove to table. I always serve it in a shallow bowl with the traditional accompaniment of crackers, either oyster crackers or saltine crackers. It really doesn’t need anything else.
In my opinion, oyster stew is one of those dishes that is best served and enjoyed immediately. If you find that you do need to store it, you can keep it refrigerated for up to three days. To reheat it I’d either use a double boiler stirring almost constantly to prevent sticking, or microwave on 50% power stirring every 30 seconds or so until warm. Freezing is not recommended.
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- 1 pint fresh oysters with their liquid
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 green onion chopped
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
- ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 cups whole milk (or heavy cream, or half and half)
- Oyster crackers (for serving)
- In a saucepan, combine all ingredients except milk. Heat over medium-low heat just until edges of oysters curl (about 10 minutes).
- In another saucepan, scald the milk (or heavy cream, or half and half). Stir the milk into the other ingredients.
- Serve immediately.
- Do not use low-fat or reduced fat milk for this recipe.
- Be sure to include the liquid the oysters are packed in (also known as oyster liquor). Or, if you’re shucking your own fresh oysters, be sure to catch the liquid that’s inside the shells as you open the oysters.
Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.