Taste of the South: Oyster Stew

Creamy Golden Oyster Stew is rich with cheese, mushrooms, aromatic onion, and celery.
Donna Florio

Stew is one of the pleasures of cold weather, especially when oysters are in season. Winter oysters tend to be fatter and larger than fall oysters. While the winter ones are not as economical as those harvested early in the season, they are both equally as good in the stew pot.

Classic oyster stew is simplicity itself--oysters, cream, salt, pepper, and perhaps a touch of butter for richness and onion to boost the briny flavor of the mollusks. But for our taste, it's a little, well, bland. Golden Oyster Stew, with its base of potato soup and chunks of celery, onion, and mushroom, is heartier and better fits the definition of a stew. This recipe received an enthusiastic welcome at the tasting table, so stir up a potful to enjoy the praise of your own tasters.

When you find shucked oysters at a good price, buy several containers and freeze them for up to six weeks. Thaw them overnight in the refrigerator for fresh flavor all season long.

Choosing the Best
Fresh shucked oysters are found in the seafood department of supermarkets or at seafood markets. We don't recommend substituting canned oysters in this recipe. Fresh oysters come in 12-oz. containers and range in size from standards (the smallest) to counts (the largest). Standards and selects are the most economical and are the best choices for oyster stew.

"Taste of the South: Oyster Stew" is from the February 2007 issue of Southern Living.