Oyster and Artichoke Stew

artichokeCertain weather means certain things to me.  Mountains in winter?  That’ll be fondue. Dark autumn evenings in London make me think of boeuf bourgignon, cups of tea and hibernation.  Summers?  That’s margaritas (see also: winter, spring, and random Tuesday lunchtimes). 

As we go into our second week of glorious winter weather here in New Orleans (sorry New York!), with fresh chilly mornings, cloudless skies with bright sun, and 60 degree highs that have you suddenly peeling off the extra layer you were so sure you needed earlier, I start to think about seafood stews.  Not as hearty as true winter fare, nor as light as a summery bouillabaisse; just enough seafood to help you enjoy the warmth of the day, and keep feeling the hope of Spring, and enough comfort factor to keep you going through the winter nights.

Oyster Artichoke StewThe Oyster and Artichoke Stew recipe below is the love child of Clam Chowder and Oyster Stew.  Feel free to re-interpret, to express yourself.  I like the addition of potatoes and bacon for a chowder vibe, but the recipe here does not include them.  Ideally serve in rustic bowls (which I obviously don’t have or I’d have taken a picture that way) with crusty bread, and enjoy the weather wherever you are! 

Oyster & Artichoke Stew
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Ingredients
  1. 2 lbs raw oysters, shucked and drained, liquor reserved
  2. 1 cup seafood stock
  3. 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
  4. 3 stalks celery, chopped
  5. 4 green onions, chopped with the white and green parts separated
  6. 1 large garlic clove, minced
  7. 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  8. 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  9. 1/3 cup flour
  10. teaspoon salt
  11. teaspoon pepper
  12. 4 cups whole milk
  13. 2 14-oz cans artichoke hearts in water (not oil), liquid from one can reserved
Instructions
  1. In a small pot bring the oyster liquor and seafood stock to a boil. Turn the heat off and just let it sit until you are ready to use it.
  2. In a larger stock pot, over medium to medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the celery and white part of the green onions and cook for about 5 minutes. You don't want the veggies to brown so keep stirring or lower the heat if necessary. Add the garlic, salt, pepper and thyme and give it a quick stir. Add the flour by sprinkling it into the pan. Stirring almost constantly with a wooden spatula, scraping the bottom, cook for 5 minutes to let the flour cook.
  3. Whisk in the warm seafood stock mixture and liquid from one can of the artichokes and bring the fire up to medium to medium high. Add the artichoke hearts and let it cook for 5 minutes, then add 3 cups of milk. If you want it a little thinner, add the 4th cup. Do not let the soup come to a boil again after adding the milk!
  4. Add the oysters and let cook for 20 minutes over medium heat. When the oysters turn opaque, plump up and the edges begin to curl you are ready to eat! Add the parsley and green part of the green onions and you are ready to go!
Belle Année http://belleannee.com/

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