Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Oyster Stew

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.

Oyster Stew

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.


Tanna said...

Love those oyster crackers and they made a great photo.
A wonderful brother/sister story.
How often do you wonder what m & d were fighting about?

Ivonne said...

Oh, Sally!

What a sweet and dear post! I can just imagine you as a little girl fiddling with your stew while you and your brother "sorted things out."

Thank you for sharing this little bit of yourself with all of us!

Oyster stew rocks!

Sally said...

Hi Tanna - Thanks for the compliment. Actually they didn't really fight that much. Guess I can see why! LOL

Hi Ivonne - Yea, we had a good system. Oyster stew is a really "personal" kind of soup. You either like it or hate it. And it definitely HAS to be made the way you grew up eating it. Thanks for the comment.

Alanna said...

My Dad grew up in Iowa, he loves oyster stew too! It's traditional here on Christmas Eve, usually he gets all the oysters because none of the rest of us are so fond ...

Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting way to eat oysters... very nice recipe. Thanks for participating.

Sally said...

Hello orchidea - you're welcome.

Hi Alanna - Thanks for visiting. Yea, you know, I really don't like it made any other way than what I stated. It must be an "Iowan" thing, ya think? LOL

Anonymous said...

i have never had oyster stew!! I used to put oyster crackers in everything I ate, but I guess coming from Indiana, oysters was a bit strange on the menu. I want to try now, thank you for the recipe!

Sally said...

Oyster stew isn't *that* exotic. I mean, if I ate it as a kid in IOWA for cripes sake, you had it in Indiana. LOL Your parents probably didn't like it and so never made it. Its a soup you either like or hate. Thanks for visiting.

sher said...

Boy, this brings back memories. When I was a kid I made this all the time when we lived near the Gulf Coast, where we could get fresh oysters very easily. It's a very easy dish, but so wonderful. And I bit into a pearl many a time!!! Great post.

Veggie Friendly said...

This is a wonderful story - and I love the fact that you prefer the tinned oysters. Funny how you become accustomed to a certain taste as a child and then anything different from that just doesn't feel right.

Sally said...

Hi sher and V.F. Thanks for visiting!

Vanessa said...

Hi Sally - wonderful post. For some reason, I remember my sisters and I fighting over the oyster crackers, not the soup. There really is something quite wonderful about those little crackers - just seeing your photo warmed my stomach a little. Thank you for sharing!

Sam said...

My Dad made oyster stew,and I am looking for it again Once upon a time, on Halloween, while my sisters and I were out doing the candy thing, we came home to find a bunch of strange children sitting around the table feasting on Dad's Oyster Stew. Apparently Mom and Dad had run out of treats, so Daddy said,"Well, I have some oyster stew here." And the kids just came in and ate it! And they all seemed to love it alot. We can't do this anymore,and that is a shame.

Anonymous said...

My husband introduced me to Oyster Stew, his family is Italian and from Rhode Island;they had it for New Years Eve every year.. So our 4 kids grew up eating it also. I have 3 boys who love it, 1 daughter who absolutely hates it..
the boys used to fight over the oysters; I use fresh oysters from the meat counter; but you are correct, you either like it or you don't.. I make it just like you stated, there are no alternatives ....

Bob Morris said...

The way you make oyster stew is just the way my grandmother in Mercer County, KY made it. 72 years later I still prefer the canned oysters in the stew. That's after living in Florida for 40 years and loving oysters on the half shell. I just printed your recipe and with the weather at 37 and dropping guess what we will be serving tonight!


Sally said...

Bob - Thanks for visiting. Glad you like your stew made the "correct" way! lol

GL said...

I LOVE oyster stew. My family used to have "Oyster Parties" and get two bushels and invite everyone over. They were served raw, steamed, grilled, rockerfeller, and in stew - with pleny of cold beer. Making some stew tonight for myself and my 4 year old daughter. My other kids won't touch them. That's okay - more for us! Thanks for the recipe. Simple is best!! Peace.