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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Oyster Stew

Good oysters are a rare treat.

Eaten raw with a classic tomato-based cocktail sauce they're delicious. Especially with an ice-cold shot of tequila.

On a cold day, though, oyster stew is the way to go. Satisfying and comforting, the best stews, like the ones served at the Grand Central Station Oyster Bar, are prepared as simply as possible.

My recipe is a variation on that theme.

Oyster Stew

Yield: Serves 4

Time: 60 minutes


6 oysters, raw, shucked, the nectar strained and reserved
1 medium sized, Yukon potato, peeled, finely diced (1/2 cup)
1 small yellow onion, peeled, finely chopped (1 tablespoon)
1 garlic clove, peeled, finely chopped
2 sprigs, parsley, finely chopped, stems and leaves (1 tablespoon)
1 small carrot, finely chopped (1 teaspoon)
2 fresh shiitaki mushrooms, washed, julienned
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Hot sauce
1 cup homemade chicken stock
1 cup water
1/2 cup cream or half and half


In a medium sized saucepan, sauté the potatoes, garlic, and onions with a tablespoon of olive oil for 10 minutes, stirring frequently so they don't brown. Season with a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then add the butter and continue sautéing for another 5 minutes. Season to taste with a dash of hot sauce.

Add the chicken stock and water. Simmer, covered, on a low flame for 15 minutes. Remove the lid, stir, and taste, adjust the flavors.

Shuck the oysters. Reserve and strain the nectar, getting rid of any sand and shell pieces. If the oysters are very large, use kitchen shears or scissors and cut them into bite-sized pieces.

Keeping the stew on a low flame, add the oysters and nectar. Cook gently for 5 minutes. Stir in the cream and continue cooking on a low flame for another 5 minutes.

Serve with fresh crusty French bread or topped with homemade croutons.

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