Maryland Oyster Liquor Oyster Chowder is the most refined recipe for an Oyster chowder using the liquor from peak season Oysters.
Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay provides oysters shipped all over the world, I know, because my BIL is a 4th generation waterman of Maryland.
Having grown up in Maryland alongside the Chesapeake Bay, I can tell you that the best Oyster chowder recipe you will ever make, is this one right here!
From the month of October right through March, oyster season quickly replaces the crab season.
For me, that means it’s just in time for tapas party slurps and hot chowders.
It all starts with freshly dredged or raked oysters, still resting inside of their shell.
Not a plastic pint of goopy oysters already removed from their source of the best flavor for a chowder; their shell.
Dredging Maryland Oysters
Dredging oysters is not like fishing for other delicacies from the sea.
They are imbedded in the mud at the base of the bay, or oyster reefs.
There are many debates as to how best extract them without removing those that are not yet mature, or damaging the oyster reefs.
Since I am environmentally concerned for these treasured Chesapeake oysters, I don’t complain about the cost for these oysters.
I may have lived in Maryland most of my life and eaten oysters in every possible way they can be eaten, but honestly, I have no idea how to open the darn shell!
It is a tradition in our family for Thanksgiving to have freshly shucked oysters on a half shell and sometimes fried, for appetizers, before the turkey dinner.
Maryland Families Celebrate Oyster Season
My brother in law, Captain Alan Poore, is a forth generation waterman from the eastern shores of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay.
Every year, for Thanksgiving, he wakes at 4:00 am to rake in oysters for our family gathering.
This year, he was unable to join us for the family celebration (post pandemic).
Omar Daumit, my son, is an executive chef and knows all too well how to open and prepare oysters in every imaginable way.
He did the honors. Brought and shucked the oysters for us, leaving me two dozen unopened oysters for this recipe.
Oyster Liquor Chowder
While New England can claim their clam chowder, we Marylanders hold the corner on oyster chowder and Oyster Stew.
Every home cook will tell you their recipe is the best, but right here and right now, I am telling you that mine is the best!
Why is this oyster chowder the best?
Aside from the fact that we are a large family of professional chefs and home cooks, creating seafood recipes since young AND a professional waterman in the family?
Oyster liquor is the slimy looking juice you find inside of raw oysters.
This liquor is the vital fluid that keeps the oyster alive when it’s out of the water.
It’s what keeps the oysters fresh, keeps the oysters plump and the flavors as fresh from the sea as possible.
Incorporating the oyster liquor, is where the best flavor enhancement for an oyster chowder comes from.
It’s what will keep that oyster plump, with minimal cooking, and impart the best natural flavor into the chowder.
Don’t Open That Oyster Shell!
I’ve had a variety of oyster chowders in my lifetime and the one thing I do not like in a chowder, is when it’s swimming in cream.
Oyster chowder is going to taste its best when the oyster is swimming in its own natural liquor, not swimming in cream!
I discovered this fact, by accident. The accident?
Call me girlie and not wanting to mess up my nail polish, I just never learned how to open an oyster.
There I was, two dozen large oyster shells my son left for me.
Thanksgiving day was over and there those ‘unopened’ oysters sat tucked into my fridge.
Carefully, I thought this through, knowing I wanted the oyster liquor to be the dominant liquid in my chowder.
It turned out to be not only the best oyster chowder but the easiest way to get my fresh oysters open without ruining my nails!
How To Make Oyster Liquor Oyster Chowder
While a few cups of salted water goes on the stove to boil, scrub, scrub and scrub again the outside of the oyster shells.
When the water comes to a boil, drop the unopened oyster shells into the salted water. Oysters do not open as fast as clams or mussels.
The shell is really thick and so it took a little longer than I expected.
As each shell began to open, that lovely oyster liquor spilled out from the shell and into the salted water.
Remove the shells as soon as they open.
Those oysters are cooked as much as we want them to be cooked.
While they cool, return the pot of liquid back to the stove, on low, and toss in onions, celery, herbs, pre-cooked bacon (for a little fat content), potatoes and a few other ingredients.
A drizzle of cream is added at the end, and really… only a little drizzle for color.
Add the cooked oysters, plucked out from their shell, just before serving.
Maryland Seafood Dishes To Love
While the waters of the Chesapeake Bay are a treasure of various seafood specialties, crabs and oysters are my most loved gifts from the bay.
I have had the great pleasure of being able to showcase some of my most loved Maryland seafood recipes on television’s Food Network.
Here are a few of those (now famous), recipes, along with a few other favorites that haven’t yet been seen on TV!
- Maryland Watermen’s Best Crab Cakes – the exciting recipe I prepared on Guy’s Grocery Games.
- Best Maryland Oyster Stew Recipe – loaded with plump oysters and mushrooms, with compliment both texture and flavor of the oysters with a splash of white wine.
- London Beef Pie Recipe – oddly this beef pie is traditionally served with raw oysters alongside to empty into the crust of this piping hot pub pie. And yes, this dish is one I recently prepared on The Great American Recipe on PBS.
- Mac and Cheese Crab Rolls – first ever to be created for The Clash Of The Grandmas on Food Network.
- Oysters in shells
- Cilantro or Parsley
- Old Bay Seasoning
- White wine
- Heavy cream
- Soup pot with a lid
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Cutting board
- Chopping knife
- Sauté pan
- Vegetable peeler
- Metal cooking spoon
- Stovetop or burner
Maryland Oyster Liquor Oyster Chowder
- Large pot with lid
- 2 dozen Oysters In Shells scrub, don't open
- 3 cups Water
- 1 tbsp Salt
- 4 Celery stalks
- 1 Onion large
- 2 Potatoes large
- 1/2 lb Bacon
- 1 Jalapeño large
- Cilantro or Parsley bunch chopped
- 2 tsp Old Bay seasoning or favorite seafood seasoning
- 1 cup White wine
- 2 tbsp Heavy Cream
- In a large pot, on top of the stove, bring salted water to a boil.
- In a skillet, cook the bacon and save about 1 tbsp of the bacon drippings in the pan. Rough chop the cooked bacon and set it aside.
- Peel and chop the potatoes into small cubes. Confetti chop the celery, onions and jalapeño (into small sizes). In the skillet with the reserved bacon drippings, quick saute the confetti chopped celery, onions and jalapeno, about a minute. Remove the pan from the burner.
- Scrub the oyster shells very well. Transfer the scrubbed oysters into the boiling water, lid on and check them every few minutes. The moment you see the shells open, about 2 minutes, remove the pot from the stove and with tongs, remove the oysters and shells.
- Return the pot to the stove, on medium low, and transfer the sauteed celery, onions and jalapeno, along with the potatoes, wine, cooked bacon and Old Bay seasoning.
- While waiting for the potatoes to cook, remove the oysters from inside their shells. They pluck out easily.
- As soon as the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes, turn the stove off, add the cilantro, cream and oysters. Cover to keep warm and serve.