Saturday, December 14, 2013

Comfort food "ne plus ultra" -- Oyster stew!

This soup is simple, delicious and soul-warming.
Homey oyster stew

RECIPE: Oyster Stew
(Makes four large servings)

2 T canola, peanut or olive oil
1 leek, trimmed, washed and thinly sliced
1 large shallot, minced
1/2 gallon (two quarts) milk
One pint shucked oysters, with their liquid
Dash of nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black or white pepper, to taste
Garnishes: a dab of butter, a dash of sherry, and of course oyster crackers at table

Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add leek and shallot and stir-fry until the veggies soften. (You can add other aromatic veggies here if you like, such as finely diced carrots, celery and/or onion, but I think leek and shallot are just about perfect.)
Add milk a cup at a time, stirring. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Keep an eye on the pot to make sure the milk doesn't scorch.
When the milk mixture gets hot -- just below a boil -- add the oysters and their liquor. You might want to pick through the oysters first to make sure there are no pieces of shell.
Stir well, cover again and let cook until the oysters start to curl around the edges.
Add seasonings, then make sure the stew is as hot as you like it. (Again, be careful not to let the bottom of the pan scorch -- use a heavy bottomed pan if you have one to make this easier.)
Add sherry and butter, if you're going to, then ladle into bowls.
Pass the oyster crackers.
Listen to the room go quiet while everyone slurps away...........

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