Easy Oyster Stew

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This is one of the last dairy- and meat-filled dishes I enjoyed before embarking on my plant-based food journey in January. It’s probably the one I miss the most.

Let me tell you a bit about this plant-based food journey.

I decided to start 2015 with a clean slate, the sort of slate that got me to give up sugar, caffeine, alcohol, dairy, gluten and all animal products for three weeks. Yep, I so crazy.

The first five days were super hard. The caffeine detox alone forced me to go to sleep at 7 pm rather than feel those mind-numbing headache cravings for coffee or black tea all night long. But after the first five days or so, it got way easier. And after three weeks, it became so regular. I started every morning with hot water and lemon and a big smoothie filled with only good-for-me foods. I discovered 100 new plant-based recipes that totally rejuvenated my kitchen. And, I felt kinda great.

I felt so great that I haven’t stopped. Sure, I’ve added in some fish and a glass of wine – okay, you got me, two glasses of wine – on the weekends. I’ve made up a couple sweet-treat-style recipes to sooth my sweet-treat-urges. And I’m not too strict about gluten. I’ve found my way to make it all work for me but I still miss the flavors and the ritual behind certain dishes, dishes like this stew.

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Let me tell you a bit about this Easy Oyster Stew.

There is nothing I love more than a lazy afternoon with my husband. And on the day I developed this dish, we spent the afternoon making life plans, booking a dream trip, shucking oysters, sipping on some homemade beer and dragging bread through our deep, milky bowls.

We were pretty thrilled with the final result. It’s rich but not exceedingly so. It’s briny in the kind of way where you were at the seaside all day and now you’re sitting by a fire at home — but the ocean still drifts on your lips. The sausage is a really nice addition, too. It hefts up the dish and, if you use an andouille-style sausage, adds some nice smoke. A baguette couldn’t find a better home then in a deep bowl of this stuff. And that’s why, plant-based food journey or not, you need to have this recipe in your cooking arsenal right now.

I have, by no means, given up on oyster stew. I’ll eat a bowl or two on our spring trip to Ireland. But twenty pounds down doesn’t lie so while I keep up the good fight, you go make this stew some lazy afternoon and make your own big plans.

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Easy Oyster Stew

Makes: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint oysters with their liquor, jarred or freshly shucked (from about 2 to 3 dozen oysters, depending on oyster size)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 5 to 6 sprigs thyme or sage or both
  • 1 cup cooked sausage, diced (andouille preferred)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Baguette, for serving

Directions:

  1. Strain the oysters through a sieve and reserve the juices. Rinse the oysters under cold water, place them in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the flour and stir to make a roux (thick paste). Cook for a few minutes, stirring to cook all the roux. When the roux turns a light caramel color, stir in the onions and herbs. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until onions are near translucent.
  3. Add the oyster juice, stirring gently to create a paste-like sauce. Add the sausage, milk, and hot sauce, still stirring. Continue to cook over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes until steamy, taking care to avoid boiling the stew.
  4. Add the oysters and cook until the edges begin to curl or wave up. Add the salt and black pepper. Serve immediately with baguette, for dipping.
Photos styled and taken by Heidi Murphy/White Loft Studio.

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