December is a month with the letter “R”, the month with Christmas, the month when families come together and the end of the calendar year. On an esoteric note, it is the month when we usually see a Mercury Retrograde- a time when moving forward is difficult, but returning home is not so hard. So many chefs, myself included, rushed through December in work mode. We geared up and worked, worked, worked. Christmas parties and events, customers, etc., etc. all happening when we were working. I used to respond to every invitation, “would love to with all my heart, maybe we can come later after dinner…. when people eat, we are working! “ It is sad that choosing between family and work was not even an option. Many cooks and chefs know that December is the linchpin to the year’s earnings.
Work would win.
But all this makes me think of oysters, and the Oyster Stew of Joe and Eunice and their Italian American Family from the Midwest . Their delicious, family making Oyster Stew.
Nearly every family has their favorites, the dish that needs to be on the Holiday table, the recipe that gets handed down through the generations, recipe card stained and words smudged..
More than the ingredients make a recipe and more than a delicious dish springs forth. Meals become legendary, the emotional connection we feel to them, their creator, and the presentation of them is a universal phenomenon. This recipe comes from an the family of a Sicilian Immigrant. His wife, a Minnesotan Episcopal, was the kitchen goddess of their family. She surrounded me with the flavors and stories of her kitchen. Blessing me with a feeling of family that I can not explain. I am somehow related to her beyond the limits of DNA and these recipes evoke a special feeling. Does your family have such recipes? I hope so.
For 6 years I enjoyed her stories of the pie marathons that preceded each of her kid’s births, of beer and ham sandwiches that nourished the son in utero born during her 46th year and of the progenic powers of Joe’s Oyster Stew served each Christmas Eve. Which none of us could refute, as 3 of their 5 kids, and 10 of their 15 grandchildren . were born 9 months later !
This recipe is relatively quick to make. We usually had it after midnight mass on Christmas Eve . It takes about 20 minutes to make. By the time the asti spuamante was poured, and the coats were on the hooks, and the snow stomped off the boots- the stew was ready to eat!
Joe & Eunice’s Christmas Oyster Stew
|2 cups freshly shucked oysters with their liquor
1/2- 3/4 cup clam juice
4 slices raw bacon minced
1 cup wild mushrooms, thinly sliced preferably chanterelles
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup dry or medium-dry sherry
1/2 tsp. dry thyme
1 tsp. Tabasco
1 cup cooked red potatoes, large-diced or quartered
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/4 cup half-and-half or milk
3/4 tsp. salt or to taste
1/4 tsp. pepper or to taste
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
|How to:Drain the oysters. Save their liquor. Combine the oyster liquor and clam juice to make 3/4 cup . Set aside.In a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, sauté the bacon over medium-high heat until about half cooked.. Add the mushrooms, onion, celery, and red pepper; reduce heat to medium. Sauté the vegetables stirring often until soft, but not brown. Stir in the sherry and thyme, then the oyster liquor mixture, Tabasco and potatoes. Raise the heat to a boil and simmer until the potatoes are nearly tender, about 5 minutes.
Stir the cornstarch and the half-and-half. Whisk this mixture into the simmering stew. Add the oysters immediately. Heat just until the oysters get plump and their edges are ruffled, 1 to 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spoon into serving bowls and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Homeopathy and Oysters
Calcarea Carbonica is oyster shell. According to some prominent homeopaths it is the most prescribed homeopathic remedy in the United States.
It is particularly great for kids who fail to thrive and to calm the anxieties of people afraid to go out in the world and fend for themselves. It is in effect, the good parent remedy. It will shift the energetic blueprint for someone who needs it; to strengthen, nourish and encourage them to grow up. Exactly what a great family does for their children. What Eunice and Joe did every day of their lives. Please see my legally required disclaimer below in the footer of this blog.
Health Benefits of Oysters
- Oysters are the most concentrated natural source of zinc, which is essential to maintaining a strong immune system, supports wound healing, maintains the senses of taste and smell. Zinc deficiency can result in symptoms such as slow growth, poor appetite, decreased wound healing, loss of hair, impaired senses of taste and smell, more frequent infections.
- Oyster is a good source of protein, each serving of six medium oysters contains six grams of protein. The protein found in oysters is high in tyrosine, an amino acid used by the brain to help regulate mood and adapt to stress.
- Oyster is low in fat and calories. A serving of oysters contains just 2 grams of fat
- Oyster is low in cholesterol, it only contain 55mg of cholesterol per serving.
- Oyster help maintain collagen and elastin fibers that give skin its firmness and help prevent sagging and wrinkles
- Oyster is a known aphrodisiac because it is rich in amino acids that trigger increased levels of sex hormones. Another reason is that high zinc content of oyster aids in the production of testosterone.
- Oyster can help improve vision.
- Oyster is also rich in iron, calcium and vitamin A.