Oyster stew with Maryland’s own Old Bay seasoning, white wine, cream and mushroom, is winter’s best gift from the bay.
Having grown up along the Chesapeake Bay of Maryland, we all know that every month with an ‘R’ is an oyster month, while those without belong to crabs!
My brother in law is a 4th generation waterman, working around the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. He keeps our family spoiled with the biggest and best oysters and years of stories that go with them.
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 that look like rocks.
There are many debates in the search for Maryland oysters as to how best extract them without removing too many that are not yet mature or ripping open the oyster reefs, so don’t complain about the cost you must pay for your delicious oysters.
Getting them for you is not an easy task, and since they are only dredged in the colder months, it can be difficult conditions with which they are gathered for us Oyster lovers.
My Maryland Oyster Stew is an easy and delicious way to enjoy oysters but many still like to eat them raw, right out of the bay. Hah! Have you ever tried to shuck an oyster?
Without a terry towel, some rubber gloves and a Chesapeake stabber, a device with a thin, flexible blade designed to work its way into the perfect hinge spot on the oyster, ain’t no way to get those rocky, lumpy oyster shells open!
This means you either learn how, or purchase the Maryland oysters already shucked and sold not only in Maryland but throughout America.
I will admit, when having a large gathering and I want to serve oysters on a half-shell and haven’t paid someone to stand there and do the job… I buy them shucked, get ahold of oyster shells I’ve scrubbed and kept (like a serving plate), and set the oysters in the shells to serve. Let’s give credit where credit is due. Some jobs just can’t be replaced by machinery.
How To Make Maryland Oyster Stew
If the best oysters in the world come from Maryland, and trust me they do, big, fat, plump and briny, we Marylanders know a thing or two about making Maryland Oyster Stew! The briny liquid of the oysters, the secret blend of spices in Old Bay or J.O. crab seasoning (strong hint of celery seed with a touch of cayenne), lots of luscious cream and a splash of dry white wine or sherry is the secret to the best Maryland Oyster Stew recipe!
Marylanders, like any other state proud of something they produce, have as many variations of a great recipe as there are kitchens that make it.
Why is my oyster stew the best? Well, I have lived in Maryland, along the waters and tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay, since I was a little girl (and I ain’t young)!
Many friends of my parents have lived here for several generations and have passed down the recipes they each knew and loved. I became aware that some of the same ingredients were found in the best of the best recipes I tasted. From there, I devised my own recipe.
I add mushrooms to my recipe simply because they add not only a similar texture as the oyster, therefore making it seem there are more oysters in the stew than may actually be in there, but also I found the duo flavors of earth (mushrooms), and sea (oysters), brought a beautiful balance in flavor, if only psychologically. While oyster mushrooms would be fantastic in the oyster stew, any mushroom will taste great.
An important tip to remember when cooking oysters in a stew; don’t over-cook them. They are delicious eaten raw, so they don’t need but about five-minutes cook time. Add the oysters last, just before you plan to serve the stew.
- Oysters and oyster liquid
- Worcestershire sauce
- Heavy cream
- Half and half
- Old Bay Seasoning
- White wine
- Large pot with lid
- Cutting board
- Chopping knife
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Vegetable peeler
- Cooking spoon
- Stovetop or burner
Best Maryland Oyster Stew Recipe
Oysters – 1 to 2 pints oysters with liquid
Oyster liquid – 1 cup or bottled clam juice
Butter – 4 tablespoons
Shallots – 1/4 cup, finely chopped
Garlic – 2 cloves, finely chopped
Celery – 1/2 cup, chopped
Old Bay seasoning or J.O. crab seasoning – 1 tablespoon
Parsley – 1/4 cup, finely chopped for serving
Salt – to taste
Worcestershire sauce – 2 teaspoons
Black pepper – freshly ground
Dry white wine – 1/4 cup
Half-and-half – 2 cups
Heavy cream – 1 cup
Carrots – 3, chopped
Potatoes – 2 large, peeled, cut into cubes
Mushrooms – 1 cup, Oyster mushrooms would be grand
- Saute the shallots, celery, garlic and carrots in butter, just long enough to see them start to change color, a minute or two.
- Add the Old Bay seasoning, Oyster liquid or clam juice, Worcestershire sauce and wine, stir, then add the potatoes and carrots. Simmer on medium for a minute or two, then slowly pour in the half-and-half and cream. Bring to a low boil, not a rapid boil, add mushrooms, cover and simmer just until the potatoes test tender, about 5 minutes.
- Slowly pour in the oysters, stir gently and cook for another 5 minutes or until oysters perk-up and form tight little balls. Never over-cook oysters, remember they can be eaten raw and don’t need much cook time.
- Sprinkle chopped parsley on top when serving for both garnish and a bright herbal flavor and scent.
- Rich, full fat coconut milk is delicious as a substitute for dairy cream used in this recipe.