Teresa Hatchell 2005

We have had our fair share of cold weather and an ample amount of mood-dampening, gloomy, rainy days and nights. But I urge you all not to let the weather get you down. As I was enjoying working at the Chamber of Commerce, listening to the continual rain one day last week, I received a weekly emailed newsletter from one of our member companies. The newsletter included a little recipe section. It is my guess that the company threw in the new food feature to improve readership of the newsletter. 

Among the four recipes shared in this particular newsletter was a great one for Quick and Easy Oyster Stew. It is a comforting dish that's simple to prepare, yet bursting with incredible flavor - and it takes no more than 20 minutes to make. There were a few essential hints given that happen to be rules that I have always adhered to: (1) for best results in all recipes, always use salted butter; (2) if a recipe requires salt, use regular table salt not coarse salt; and (3) there is no substitute for heavy cream when it comes to producing a delicious dish.

As for selecting oysters, just buy already-shucked pints of medium-size oysters. The medium-size oysters have the most flavor, and they are available in stores during months with the letter 'r' in their names. Oysters should never have any odor other than just a slight whiff of seawater. If they do, please throw them away immediately. That goes for any other shellfish or fish, too. For those of you who do not eat oysters, I have offered a recipe for chili made with ground turkey.

Quick and Easy Oyster Stew

3 tablespoons salted butter

2 bunches green onions, thinly sliced, including both green and white parts

2 small cloves garlic, minced

2 cups milk

2 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup bourbon

1 cup very rich chicken stock

1-3/4 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon white pepper

2 pints fresh raw medium oysters, plus 1-1/2 cups of their drained juice (called 'liquor') In a medium-size stockpot over medium heat, melt the butter. When the foaming has subsided, add the onions and garlic and sauté for three to four minutes until they begin to be translucent. Add the milk, cream, bourbon, chicken stock, salt, white pepper, and oyster liquor. Bring this mixture to a boil for 10 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and add the oysters. They should "steep" in the hot stock for about three minutes, until they are heated through fully and just begin to curl at the edges. Do not overcook them. Serve this stew immediately. This recipe serves six people.

Easy, Healthful Turkey Chili

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 pound ground turkey

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1-1/2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder

Salt

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3 cups beef stock or low-sodium broth

15-ounce can tender white corn, drained

Shredded cheddar, sour cream and tortilla chips, for serving

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic and cook over high heat, stirring, until barely softened, about 3 minutes. Add the turkey, chili powder, cumin and chipotle powder and season with salt. Cook, breaking up the turkey with a wooden spoon, until the liquid has evaporated and the turkey is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and then the tomato paste. Add the stock and corn and simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with cheddar, sour cream and tortilla chips. 

Contact writer at tgmhatchell@yahoo.com.

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