Thursday, December 23, 2010

Shall We Be Trotting Home Again?

Tomorrow night is Christmas Eve and we will be going to my parents' house for oyster stew.  This is a Midwestern tradition that has moved around with us; I made oyster stew every Christmas Eve when I lived in New York, and now that we're all in Arizona Mom has resumed gathering our immediate family together for Christmas Eve supper and the gift exchange.  Mom has never written down her recipe for oyster stew, but here's my reconstruction of what she does.  It's much simpler than many versions I've seen but still my sentimental favorite.

Oyster Stew

1/4 cup butter
1 cup milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 pint oysters
salt and white pepper to taste
oyster crackers (optional)

Put the butter in a microwavable casserole or bowl and microwave on the melt setting.  Add the milk and half-and-half; stir.  Heat in the microwave until it starts to steam (do not boil or a skin will form).  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the oysters and their liquor and heat until the oysters are just opaque; again, do not allow the stew to boil.  Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.  Serve with the oyster crackers on the side.

Mom usually uses a double boiler rather than the microwave, but I find the microwave faster and less likely to scorch the milk.

"'O Oysters," said the Carpenter,
You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?'
But answer came there none--
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one."

~Lewis Carroll, "The Walrus and the Carpenter" (from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

No comments:

Post a Comment