WHAT'S COOKING?: Oyster roasts abound
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WHAT'S COOKING?: Oyster roasts abound

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Teresa Hatchell 2005

Teresa Hatchell

On the last weekend of January, the people of the Pee Dee and Low Country areas responded in droves to the Miracle League annual Oyster Roast fundraiser and to the Boone Hall Farms Oyster Festival. There were other oyster roast charity events this past weekend and some are planned for this coming weekend and throughout February and March.

Though oysters are good served every month with an "R" in the spelling, oyster roasts fundraisers held by many organizations in our great state are chiefly held the first three months of the year. My son Lance helped with the roast for The Miracle League for the Pee Dee area, which according to him is an event that draws overwhelming response each year! 

Roasting and steaming oysters are the two easiest ways to "cook" them, but there are a great number of people I know who just eat them "raw." 

Here are some important guidelines and a few recipes for oysters. To make recipe preparations easier, merely select and 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. As an extra help that applies not only to oyster recipes but to all recipes in general that contain butter, salt and/or cream: remember to always use salted butter; to use regular table salt and to use heavy cream.

Among the oyster recipes I am sharing today is a great one for a quick and easy oyster stew. I am also offering Aunt Lottie's Oyster Pie that Harriett Hutto shared with me back in the winter of 2008, as it was one of the many outstanding recipes that graces the pages of the Providence Cookbook. I can't remember who gave me the oyster spread recipe that I scribbled on a now tattered old recipe card. I am just glad that I have hung onto it all of these years. As we "love" our way through February then transition into March, please try one or more of these recipes and share them with friends and family.

Oyster stew in 20 minutes

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

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.

Aunt Lottie's Oyster Pie

1 can cream of mushroom or cream of onion soup, your preference

Whole milk

2 (5-ounce) boxes Oysterette crackers

2 pints oysters, drained

1 stick of butter, sliced into thin "pats"

Put the soup directly from the can into a bowl. Fill the soup can 3/4 from the top with whole milk. Stir the soup and milk together until the mixture is smooth in consistency. Line a baking dish with a layer of crackers, then a layer of oysters. Repeat, ending with a layer of crackers on top. Pour the soup and milk mixture over the top. Add small pats of butter and sprinkle pepper to suit your taste. Bake the Oyster Pie at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Smoked oyster spread

16 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons mayonnaise or Miracle Whip, your preference

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Vegetable cooking spray

2 (3.66-ounce) cans smoked oysters, drained and chopped

Garnishes: paprika and/or lemon slices

Combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise or Miracle Whip, Worcestershire sauce and garlic powder. Coat a 15-inch-long piece of wax paper with cooking spray. Spread the cream cheese mixture on the wax paper in a 10-x 6-inch rectangle. Place the chopped oyster pieces evenly over the cheese. Roll this yummy creation up as you would a jellyroll, starting with the long side. Cover the "roll" and chill it. When you are ready to serve this as a "spread," add the garnishes if you opt to use them and serve the spread with bagel chips and/or melba rounds.

You may contact the writer at: tgmhatchell@yahoo.com.


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