While working, I traveled heavily throughout all of Louisiana. It's truly my most favorite cuisine by far. This one came from one of Emeril's restaurants in New Orleans. I've tasted oyster stew from New England to the Pacific Northwest, from my native Maryland, Virginia, and the Gulf Coast, but this is the one I love the most. As a constant request during the winter holidays, I've made this recipe many many times. Some have been disasters, but I have it down pat now. As always, you absolutely must have fresh shucked oysters. I get mine from our local Loozieanna store, and I use Fresh Market's Chesapeake Bay oysters.
Jimmy's Creole Oyster Stew
6 bacon strips (or pancetta) chopped fairly small. (freeze a little bit to make for easier cutting)
1 stick of butter
1 cup of chopped onions, slightly small
1/2 cup of finely chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green onions tops included
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Heavy pinch of cayenne (one time I added like 3 pinches.....man it was pretty spicy....we liked it)
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup dry all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 quart fresh oysters, liquid drained and reserved
3 cups milk
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/2 cup heavy cream
In a large pot, cook the bacon down to render the fat but not too crisp, kinda chewy, bout 5-6 min. Remove bacon from the fat and drain on paper towels. Discard all but about 1 heavy tablespoon of fat from the pan.
To the remaining fat in the pan add the stick of butter and melt over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and cook gently till soft bout 5 minutes. Add the green onions, garlic, salt, white pepper, cayenne, and thyme and cook stirring for one minute. Add the flour and cook, stirring, to make a light roux, about 3 minutes.
Add the wine and cook for 1 minute. Add the reserved oyster liquor and milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the liquid thickens; not too much, about 4 minutes. Add the oysters and parsley and simmer until the oysters start to "curl", about 3 minutes.
Stir in the cream and reserved bacon and cook for 1 more minute. Remove from the heat and adjust your seasonings. Serve hot with warm crusty french bread. You can add a small spoonful of good sherry, (not cooking sherry), on top like we Marylanders do. I like a cold crisp white wine like a Chenin Blanc or a French Vouvray. The flavors will explode on your palette with the stew! Bon Appetite!