Oyster stew is such a great supper on a cold night. Especially with these cornbread crackers. And it is so easy. And fast. Once you have the celery and shallot diced, you're just about done!
- 8 oz. (that's a half-pint) of standard oysters and their "liquor." You don't need the extra fancy, more expensive ones.
- 2-3T butter
- about a cup of milk. I used skim, because that's what I keep on hand, but of course whole milk would taste even better. (Although, because I am using skim, I don't feel at all bad about going with 3T butter!)
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 plump shallot (maybe two if they are little), diced fine
- white pepper if you have it, otherwise fresh-ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon or more of sweet paprika. I don't used the smoked paprika for this because it might mask the delicate flavor of oysters. Can't think of anything else I wouldn't use smoked paprika in.
- optional but very good: One leftover baked potato, large dice (When I am using the oven for something else, like the pork chops with cranberries in the previous recipe, I often throw a few potatoes in to bake. They can be used in so many things, and they taste way better than spuds "baked" in a microwave.
- also optional, but I wanted to try it: a few "threads" of saffron, if you happen to have some kicking around.
Add the liquor from the oysters, but don't hurt yourself straining it. The rest can come along later when it is time to add the oysters, which go in last.
Add the paprika -- you don't put it in earlier because you don't want it to burn. I use a lot, close to a full teaspoon for this much stew.
Add the milk. If you need to "stretch" things, add more milk. Heck, even more potato, celery and shallot.
When the liquid is hot and just starting to simmer but before the milk really boils (scalded milk, yuck), dump in the oysters and any remaining liquid. Keep heating until the oysters curl, which really only takes a minute or so, then turn off the heat right away. It's done.
Grab some crackers -- I like cornbread, some people like traditional oyster crackers -- and a spoon. If you are hungry or if you are selfish about shellfish, this serves one as a full supper. You could easily make it serve two, maybe more if it's just a first course and you add more milk, etc.
If you are lucky enough to be sharing with someone who doesn't like oysters, you may find that they like the rest of this "stew" just fine if you call it potato soup, and then you get to eat all the oysters.
Last January I posted a recipe for Oyster Stew made with leeks. That was good, too, and you can look it up. This is more traditional.