The Local Food Report: Wellfleet oyster stew

I remember what last year's OysterFest brought to my breakfast. It was nine a.m.; I was downtown refusing coffee, muffins, and beer. Instead, clutched between my well-chilled palms I held a bowl of oyster stew.

The stew was everything a good cold weather breakfast should be: rich, warm, and filling. To be sure it was savory rather than oatmeal sweet, but it lasted me on foot long through the day.

Photo courtesy Sarah Reynolds

I remembered my breakfast last week, hungry for a fall-time dinner and hankering for soup. I pulled together milk and cream, seasonings and spices, and a good bowl of oysters with liquor. The stove flamed hot, and I sauteed onions and celery, salt and pepper, and thickened butter and flour into a hearty roux. In went milk and cream, a dash of sherry, and finally a heaping quart of fresh shucked oysters. As their rippled edges shrunk to lace, I took a bite, and the memories came flooding back.


(adapted from Mrs. Louis T. Parker's recipe in Charleston Receipts, put together by the women of the Junior League of Charleston, S.C.)

Serves 4-6

Melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add 3/4 cup diced celery and 1/2 cup thinly sliced onion, and cook until tender. Shake in 3 tablespoons flour, stirring constantly. Pour in 1 quart whole milk, little by little, stirring all the while. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, and 1 blade mace and cook until boiling point is reached. Add 1 pint oysters with liquor and a dash of sherry if desired. Serve as soon as oysters are thoroughly hot and plump.


Anonymous said...

elspeth; On a chilly night there is nothing better than good oyster stew.Charleston Receipts has to be the best of all. eat a lot for me .hugs,biee

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