Tuesday, November 14, 2006
I can't remember a time when I didn't like oyster stew. Mom and Dad absolutely loved it, so it was on a regular rotation in our house. When we were young, my brother and I had a deal - I liked the milk better than the oysters and he was just the opposite. So when we had the stew for supper Butch and I would dink around with our bowls so that I had more milk and he had more oysters. Mom didn't really care as long as she had hers and we didn't fight about it.
Thinking back on all those oyster stews brings back so many good memories. Like the time Butch bit into an oyster and found a pearl. Or the time Mom backed Dad out of the kitchen waving a butcher knife in his face while he said "Now, Opal...now, Opal" over and over and over again. After he left she calmly sat back down and continued with her soup giving our giggling faces stern looks and fingering the knife by her bowl. I never did know what they were fighting about.
Turin, the nursing home and oyster stew all blend together in my mind. It was part and parcel of my childhood memories. Growing up in the 50's and 60's our only source of oysters were canned. Unlike today where pints of "fresh" oysters show up on grocer's shelves around this time of year. I'll bet Mom didn't pay $1.92 for a can of oysters, but that's still cheaper than those pints. And they taste a whole lot better, too. (At least in my mind....maybe I just like the taste of the tin... who knows.)
We also served the residents oyster stew at least once a month. That's where I learned that if you chop up the oysters they go further. An added benefit is you get at least some oyster with every bite. If Butch were alive today I definitely wouldn't share my oysters with him any more, I like them so much.
Making oyster stew is a breeze. At least, it is the way I make it. Oysters, butter, milk, salt and pepper (to taste). That's pretty much it. I've dinked around with the recipe some over the years, but I just keep coming back to the basics. And, like all soup, it's even better the next day. And don't forget the oyster crackers. The other ones just don't taste as good.
1 can of oysters
1/2 stick of butter
milk or half 'n half (or a combination)
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1. Open the can of oysters and dump them in your sauce pan. Using a chopper thingy, chop them to the consistency you like. Or don't. It's your soup, after all.
2. Turn the heat on to medium and throw in the butter. Let the oyster juice and butter work it's magic for a bit on those babies.
3. Add your milk/half 'n half up to the top of the pan. Be realistic here. If you use a huge soup pot, you're obviously going to need more oysters and butter. Plus, that's a gallon or so of milk. How big of a crowd are you cooking for anyway?
4. Add some salt and pepper after it's heating up good. Taste it. Does it need more? You decide. Oh, and don't let the bottom of the milk burn. Keep that fire about medium and slowly heat that milk up.
There you go. Simple, huh? This is our traditional Christmas Eve supper. I loved it when Mom lived with us because I could make oyster stew a couple of times a month. DH isn't as crazy about it as I am. I think he's content to just have to eat it on Christmas Eve. Thank goodness I read Ivonne's post about comfort foods. I now have an excuse to make (and eat) oyster stew for no particular reason other than I love it. When I told him what was for supper he just gave me "that look". Nothing hostile or anything. Just like "stew and what else?" so I'm heating him up some left over pork cutlet and gravy. Come to think of it, maybe I will up the size of my pan and use two cans..... . Thanks Ivonne!
Oh - by the way - I've also made oyster stew out of left over boxed scalloped potatoes. Not bad...not bad at all.