George Cowan's Oyster Stew

December 11, 2015
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

Stew is a funny name for my grandpa's traditional Christmas Eve soup, since it's just whole milk, flavored with chopped fresh oysters, plus butter, pepper, and celery salt swirling across the top. It's a bit like an oyster pan roast or chowder, but barer in bones. There's no room to hide—so the better and fresher your oysters, the better it all will taste. Adapted slightly from my parents' website, The Online Cookbook. —Kristen Miglore

  • Makes 8 bowls
  • 1/2 gallon whole milk
  • 2 to 3 8-ounce jars of fresh oysters (24 to 36 oysters, shucked)
  • 1 cube butter
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or use more celery salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In This Recipe
  1. Heat milk in double boiler (or just on low heat).
  2. Dice oysters and place in stew pan with 1 cup water, butter, celery salt, salt, and pepper.
  3. Bring to simmer and simmer gently for seven minutes.
  4. Add oyster mixture to milk in double boiler.
  5. Simmer gently at least two hours. The longer it simmers, the more flavorful it is, or if it sets overnight it becomes more flavorful. Stir well and season to taste.

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I'm an ex-economist, ex-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."