Oyster stew has a storied and rich history. According to some historical sites, the original oyster stew recipes were brought to America by Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine. In the Catholic religion, meat consumption was banned on Christmas Eve and so many Irish families ate fish stews. Unfortunately, fish was prohibitively expensive and oysters were used as a substitute. Over time, Oyster Stew became a traditional Christmas dish for many.
As the popularity of oyster stew grew, chefs in different regions began to put their own twists on the basic recipe.
A traditional New England oyster stew typically contains the followed ingredients:
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter,
- 2 ½ cups milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3 dozen large oysters with juices
- ⅛ Tsp. white pepper
Whereas an oyster stew from the deep south has:
- 2 dozen fresh shucked oysters in liquid
- 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 8 collard stems, sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 large yellow onion, finely diced (about 2 cups)
- 3 celery stalks, finely diced (about 1 cup)
- 1/4 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces, and cooked, reserving bacon drippings
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley and celery leaves
These differences majoritively were driven by what was available to regional chefs, but also by the preferences of their diners. The southern stew is reflective of its roots, the land of collard greens, gumbo, and jambalaya.
No matter your preference there are few things more warming and delicious than a bowl of fresh, piping hot oyster stew on a cold winter day. Our Wandering Waders Premium Jarred Oysters are perfect for oyster stew and take all the work out of having to shuck them yourself.For other recipes and tips, take a look at our blog.