Although any oyster can be used for stew, East Coast oysters, preferably from the Chesapeake Bay, are recommended. The West Coast oysters have such a unique and subtle flavor that they should be enjoyed raw. While the Bay oysters have plenty of flavor, it is less distinct and lends itself to cooking.
Down on the Chesapeake where oysters are plentiful and a box of 100 costs $30, even the most committed aficionado will stray. Grilled oysters – putting them on a hot grill or under a broiler for just a few minutes opens them, cooks them only slightly, and gives them a very different, milder, but delicious flavor.
Putting them in a stew with potatoes, onions, cream, and Bay Spice is perhaps the best way to eat cooked oysters. It is simple to make and delicious.
Pre-shucked oysters are available at Whole Foods and other markets and can be used for this recipe. A pint of oysters will contain more than one dozen, so select the biggest, and reserve about 1/4 cup of the liqueur.
Simple Oyster Stew
* 1 dozen oysters in the shell (or pre-shucked)* 1 lg. potato, cut into small pieces* 1 med. onion, coarsely chopped* 3 strips of bacon, uncooked, cut into thirds* 1 lg. stick celery, chopped into small pieces* 1 Tbsp. Bay Spice (approx.)* 1 1/2 cups of Half-and-Half (approx.)* 2 Tbsp. unsalted European-style butter
- Place the oysters in the bottom of a large pot
- Add 1/2 cup water or just enough to cover the bottom
- Steam the oysters for approximately 2-3 min
- Test one to see if it opens easily with a knife; if not add time
- Shuck the oysters, careful not to lose the liqueur
- Put oysters and liqueur in a sauce pan
- Separately sauté the onion and celery in butter until soft
- Put them in the pot with the oysters
- Separately boil the potatoes until tender, put them in pot
- Add the cream, Bay Spice, and bacon and simmer 10 min
- Stir often, adjust for Bay Spice