Let Us Help You Make Delicious Oyster Stew This New Year’s Day
You and I are making this after New Year’s Eve, in the light of day. We are people without regrets. While the amateurs are sleeping off their headaches in a hovel with their dirty-faced friends, as our Southern relatives are delivering a lecture on black-eyed peas and corn bread, you and I are going to make a bowl of something that reminds people life is better than good enough.
People based on Planet Earth in Reality never finish the last bottle of champagne. We figured out that waking up wretched was a Grade A bummer. Other people can go ahead and enjoy their made-for-television adaptation of tragic glamour, finish them bottles Valley of the Dolls-style as they see fit – but I hang onto a cup of bubbly for our stew.
This is not your average oyster stew. Most other stews happen very quickly and involves little else but cream, some seasonings and oysters. That works, but my God, why spend the first day of a bright and shiny new year with Betty Crocker? We do not have to stop celebrating! I bought two bottles of Veuve Clicquot at Costco for guests, some is left, and would you look at that brand new day outside? I have hope and love in my heart, and now I’m going to put it in you.
Value Added Feature – A chicken wing recipe from a person who grew up in Western NY. Smack dab in the middle.
Here we go!
4 strips of smoked bacon, chopped, 1 tbs. of grease reserved
3 tablespoons butter
2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium to large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed to death
3-4 celery ribs, finely chopped
2-3 potatoes, washed peeled and cubed
¾ c. chicken broth (Better Than Bouillon with water works!)
2 small bottles of clam juice
1 qt. heavy cream (or half and half), plus regular milk to thin if needed
Leftover Champagne – about a cup and a few splashes
2 splashes of a drinkable Amontillado*
¼ c. minced fresh parsley
1 tbs. Herbs of Provence
1-2 strands of fresh thyme
2 12 oz. jars of fresh raw oysters, un-drained and chopped
A shaky-shaky of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
Sliced green onions and smoked paprika, for garnish
*Pick an Amontillado good enough to sip, in the $20-$30 range. Not sherry. Not port. You will not believe how wonderful it is when the subtle nutty flavor of Amontillado combines with champagne. I don’t mind your skepticism. Go on and taste it, though, after 30 minutes pass. Then you believe.
Crisp the bacon in a big lobster pot, drain on paper towels, and crumble it up. Set it aside, but don’t ever forget bacon. In the reserved grease, add butter and oil. Sauté onion and shallots until they sweat, then add garlic. When the onions turn translucent, add the celery and sauté until it’s tender. Add all of the remaining ingredients (EXCEPT for the oysters, crackers and garnishes), bring to almost-boiling. Cover the pot and reduce the heat. Cook until potatoes are tender – about an hour. Stir occasionally.
During this hour, you should consider making some chicken wings. Fry thawed wings in shortening until they are crisp, and then go 5 minutes more. Maybe even 3 minutes more. The right way is the overcooked way, in Crisco, so that the wings suck up the sauce. No one in the world who is serious would bake a chicken wing. Drain your wings on paper towels. Do you have a plastic bowl with a lid? Good. Squirt in some Red Pepper Sauce or Sriracha into the bowl with about half a cup of melted butter. Throw the wings into the sauce, close the lid and shake the living hell out it. Prep some carrot sticks, celery and blue cheese. Take the wings out of the bowl and keep the wings warm in the oven on low heat, lightly covered with foil. You are free to add more sauce before serving.
Back to the stew.
Remove the thyme stems and bay leaves. Thyme leaves come off the stems in hot liquid, and our bay leaves have done their work.
Add the oysters, liquid and all, bring the temperature back up, and then cover the pot. We chopped the oysters because it’s rude to serve pieces of food too big for a spoon. You were not shy about that process at all and did not make faces – how awesome are you? So much! I hope you found a real pearl.
When the edges of oysters begin to curl and mixture is piping hot but not boiling, you are very ready to eat. If you cook oysters too far beyond this point, they are going to get rubbery. Rubbery is not the end of the world, but do aim for curled, which should happen within 5-10 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste. Remember to take the wings out of the oven, too.
Serve oyster stew with some quality crackers, garnish with sliced green onions and smoked paprika. The ‘rika is optional, but attractive. Bay Seasoning is nice on top, too. I know you will figure it out. I believe in you.
Look at you, eating fancy soup and chicken wings – wearing your track pants, with your hair piled on one side of your head. You are so beautiful.
Happy New Year and Warmest Regards From Hell,