21 February 2023

The Little House Cooking Club - Oyster Stew

 "... In all her life Laura had never tasted anything so good as that savory, fragrant, sea-tasting hot milk, with golden dots of melted cream and black specks of pepper on its top, and the little dark canned oysters at its bottom. She sipped slowly, slowly from her spoon, to keep that taste going over her tongue as long as she could."                        

                                                                                         - excerpt from By the Shores of Silver Lake

I have never cooked oysters ! Is that crazy or what ? I've only eaten them straight from an icy half shell at my daughter's home. She is 'the queen of oysters' and has great experience with different oysters from different ocean locations, different special little herbal or juicy toppings on the fresh little critters, different beverages that go with those little creatures. I have NEVER cooked those little creatures !

Until this evening ... and this one pot meal that was really quite delicious !

The canned oysters that I found at the market were larger than I thought they'd be. I picked them over to make sure there were no bits of shell in them before I dropped them into the prepared soup/stew. Just as Laura experienced, they sunk to the bottom of the pan and disappeared until I scooped them up in my spoon. They were wonderful !

My stew is richer than the recipe in The Little House Cookbook. I opted to start the stew with some onion and celery sauté and added the oyster brine and some clam broth to keep the seafood flavour strong. I used milk and cream to build the stew and added quartered baby potatoes along with the oysters to make a really hearty dish. I was tempted to add a carrot or two, but held back, as that seemed too big a departure from the original recipe.

The soup/stew came out really well. With a batch of drop biscuits, it made for a nice cold night supper.

 Oyster crackers and plenty of black pepper made this a wonderful tribute to Laura's Christmas day fare. Here's how I did things ...

Oyster Stew

Serves 4


2- 8 oz cans oysters, drained and set aside - reserve the oyster brine in a measuring cup

1- 8 oz bottle clam broth

2 tbsp. butter

2 stalks celery with the leaves intact, small dice

3/4 c. sweet onion, small dice

ground allspice, a generous pinch

ground nutmeg, a generous pinch

ground pepper, a very generous pinch

baby potatoes, a large handful, washed and quartered

2 c. whole milk

1 c. heavy cream

1/2 c. oyster crackers, crushed to fine crumbs

Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Making the Dish:

1. Drain the oysters' brine into a measuring cup. Add just enough water to the measuring cup to bring the brine to the one cup line. Set aside . Place the oysters in a bowl and pick them over to separate any shell fragments. Set the cleaned shellfish aside.

2. Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. As it begins to melt, add the prepped celery, onions and spices. Sauté until the veg glistens.

3. Add the reserved oyster brine and the clam broth and stir to combine and bring to a boil. 

4. Crush the oyster crackers and add them to the stew, stirring to soften and combine. Lower the heat.

5. Add the quartered potatoes, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes to soften the potatoes.

6. When the potatoes are 'knife tender, add the milk and cream and let the stew come back up to a slight simmer.

7. Taste the broth and correct the seasonings. 

8. Turn the heat off under the pot, cover and let it stand to let spices and flavours meld. 

9. Bake a batch of biscuits ... while they bake, dump the cleaned oysters into the hot stew and let them warm up. You can turn the heat on under the pot to bring things to a very low simmer. Don't overcook the oysters !

10 Pull the biscuits from the oven, dish up the soup, and sprinkle the stew with oyster crackers and black pepper.  Yum !

1 comment:

  1. Just don't think I can do oysters....lol


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