It’s been a seemingly unending winter here in Central Texas. At least our version of it. Damp & chilly with the occasional freeze and subsequent public freak-out.
So, seeking out “hearty” comfort foods to try to ignore Winter’s lingering visit is simply human nature. In that spirit, I decided on Oyster Stew for dinner last week.
I suppose one could call this a chowder. It certainly has some milk (my preferred chowder base) in the broth. However, this recipe only uses 1 cup of milk, is thickened with a roux, and doesn’t have any bacon or salt pork in the recipe as traditional chowders do.
I do serve it with oyster crackers, though.
Note: In this example, I did use clam juice. It has a fairly neutral flavor and is readily available.
If you do use a commercial seafood-based stock, be careful of how much salt you add. Commercial stocks, especially seafood, can be salty. Some of it is simply from the natural saltiness of the seafood and some is from the addition of salt during manufacturing.
2 tbsp. vegetable oil or butter
1 stalk celery, finely diced (about 1/4 cup)
1 small onion, finely diced (about 3/4 cup)
1 lb. Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. Old Bay Seasoning, or to taste
4 c. fish stock, shellfish stock, or clam juice (or, in a pinch, chicken broth or water)
4 tbsp. butter
4 tbsp. flour
1 1/2 pt. oysters (keep any oyster liquor [juice] – it will be added with the milk)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 c. milk or half-and-half
Salt & Pepper to taste
1. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter or heat the oil. Add the celery and onion and saute until the vegetables are soft but not browned, about 3 – 5 minutes.
2. Add the potatoes and continue sauteing just until the potatoes begin to warm up, about 3 – 5 minutes.
Add the thyme, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, and the Old Bay Seasoning. Stir until the vegetables are coated with the seasonings.
3. Add the stock or broth. Cover the saucepan and bring the liquid to a boil. Once the liquid comes to a boil, uncover the saucepan, turn the heat down to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, make the roux. In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir until it is mixed thoroughly with the butter. Stir over the heat for an additional 2 minutes. Take the skillet off the heat and set aside.
5. When the potatoes are done, add the roux, lemon juice, milk, and oysters (along with their liquor). Continue cooking until the milk is heated through, the stew is thickened a bit more, and the oysters are cooked, about 5 – 7 minutes.
Taste for seasoning and serve with crackers.