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.
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, and 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 the source of the best flavor for a chowder; their shell.
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.
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. Omar Daumit, my son, is an executive chef. 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.
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? I don’t know how to open an oyster. Call me girlie and never wanted to mess up my nail polish, so 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. The oysters are cooked all the more 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.
- Oysters in shells
- Old Bay Seasoning
- White wine
- Soup pot with a lid
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Cutting board
- Chopping knife
- Sauté pan – to pre-cook the bacon
- Vegetable peeler
- Metal cooking spoon
- Stovetop or burner
Maryland Oyster Liquor Oyster Chowder
- Oysters In Shells – 2 dozen
- Water – 3 cups
- Salt – 1 tbsp
- Celery – 4 stalks
- Onions – 1 large
- Potatoes – 2 large
- Bacon – 1/2 lb
- Jalapeño – 1 large
- Cilantro – 1 bunch
- Old Bay seasoning – 2 tsp
- White wine – 1/2 cup
- Bring salted water to a boil.
- Cook the bacon. Save 1 tbsp of the bacon drippings. Rough chop the cooked bacon.
- Peel and chop the potatoes into small cubes. Chop the celery, onions and jalapeño into small (confetti chop), sizes. Rough chop the cilantro.
- 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, remove the pot from the stove and with tongs, remove the oysters.
- Return the pot to the stove, on medium low, and add the celery, onions, potatoes, cooked bacon, bacon drippings, jalapeño 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 and oysters. Cover to keep warm and serve.
What a wonderful story and I can’t wait to make this yummy oyster stew!
I was hesitant to try this, since I live on the Eastern Shore of md and we use heavy cream in our oyster stew, but this was delicious. The flavors really went well together.
This is absolutely delicious!
Magnificent. The celery and cilantro makes a world of difference!
Oysters made rich!
Super winter food. Some might want to go easy with the cilantro, not everyone likes it.
Call it stew, call it chowder. Its good!