Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Weird Comfort Food -- Oyster Stew

Anyone who knows me well know that I have a strong emotional connection to a very weird comfort food. Not just weird, but by most people's standards, disgusting. Most of my friends have never even dared to try it, but one friend gagged when she did! And the thing is, I get it. For most people it smells gross and looks gross.

Blog readers, I'd like to introduce you to my beloved oyster stew.
oyster stew | this little miggy stayed home

Apparently there is some sort of fancy oyster stew out there made with real cream and served at fancy restaurants. But that is not this oyster stew. This oyster stew has 4 ingredients, 2 of which come in the same can.

Backstory: When I was a kid I have a distinct memory of my grandparents and great-grandparents sitting around the dinner table all of the slurping on some sort of yellow-milky broth with these weird grey and green things floating around. I was both disgusted and intrigued. I asked to try it and I didn't like it. But for some reason I wanted to like it. So I kept trying it...until I liked it. And then one day I loved it. I didn't have it for several years until I asked my grandmother to show me how to make it back when I was in high school. It's been a main stay in my life ever since!

Lucky you, I'm going to share the recipe with you now! Probably the only thing you would need to buy is a can of whole oysters from the grocery store (by the canned tuna). Everything else you definitely have on hand.


Ingredients:
milk (i just eyeball it, but probably 1.5 cups)
butter
I can whole oysters
oyster juice strained from the canned oysters
saltine or oyster crackers (optional, but you want these)

To make:
In small to medium sized sauce pan melt 1-2 tlb.s butter until melted and slightly bubbly. Add oysters and let them sauté for 1-2 minutes. You don't want anything burning or getting too hot. Add milk and most of the oyster juice. (sometimes there is a little sediment/shell from the oysters at the bottom of the bowl, so I add all the juice until I get to that part). Heat until warmed through and voila!

I'm not sure why I wanted to like oyster stew so badly, especially as a kid! I'm not sure I've ever experience that sensation of not liking a food, but wanting to like it, and more making myself like it. Perhaps it's the fact that I have always felt like I wanted to like something that only the adults liked, or maybe I saw it as another tie to a bygone era that I just wanted to be a part of... I'm pretty sure I saw this as depression era food and for some reason wanted in on that. (I also used to steal my grandparents cassette tapes with hits from the 1940's and record old black and white movies from their oldies TV channel.)  But whatever the reason, I really, really love it. This is one of my favorite meals of all time and is probably my most comfortable comfort food.

oyster stew with oyster crackers || This Little Miggy

At the same time, I totally get why it skeezes other people out. It kinda smells up the whole house, it's a strange salty/milky/buttery flavor that also happens to have large chunks of chewy grayish seafood floating around. Mmmmmm. In fact one time in college my oyster stew played a starring role in a prank war some friends of mine were involved in. Another girl and I asked some guys out on what was supposed to be a date night from hell sort of thing (that was the prank part of it...but the guys didn't know it because they didn't know who I was) and the friends who put me up to it had me make oyster stew for the horrible meal on our horrible date. Ha! Needless to say I gobbled it up while  everyone looked on in disgust.

So I'm curious, anyone else have a really weird comfort food that no one else gets? Is there something you make or a particular grocery item you buy that makes the rest of your family shudder? Do you think having a sentimental attachment makes it taste even better? Also, I would LOVE for someone to try my oyster stew recipe and tell me how it goes! Consider it a dare if thats what it takes.  Maybe you're a fan and you never knew it? Also, while none of my brothers, sisters, parents, aunts or uncles like oyster stew, PSP tried it a few years ago and loves it as much as I do! Yay!

17 comments:

  1. My mom made me and my brother Grilled Cheese and Peanut Butter sandwiches when we were kids, and it's still one of my most favorite meals! You just put PB on one of the pieces of bread (inside) as you make the sandwich like a regular grilled cheese. I also dip mine in applesauce as I eat it, which definitely ups the "weird" factor to most people who watch me eat it, but it combats the sticky-ness of the PB!

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    1. OK, this sounds totally weird to me! I love it!

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  2. Also a depression era food, and one that I was raised on and love, is broken up bread, a drizzle of honey, and cold milk. Even better is what we call "hot milk toast"-- toast, broken up into pieces, a spoonful of butter, and hot milk poured all over. Yum to me, but so gross to my husband! My girls like it, because I've raised them on it. And I'll have to pass on your dare--I'm certain I couldn't swallow it. Some things are just need acquiring...like my soggy bread.

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    1. I love this! My grandpa used to talk about some nights only have milk and bread for dinner. And he used to spread gravy on bread and eat it--which I totally did as a kid too!

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  3. Anonymous5:44 PM

    You can buy oysters in a can? Get outta town. You Americans are so cute :)

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    1. Ha! We are ADORABLE. :)

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  4. I didn't know you could buy them in a can. I always get them at the deli at thanksgiving. They sure are expensive. I love stew, dressing and fried oysters. Yum yum. I bet if more people tried them they would like them. Raw oysters, no way. I used to like Bologna and grape jelly sandwiches when I was young.

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  5. Anonymous1:25 AM

    Pancakes and cream gravy. Husband, kids and grandkids won't touch it. It is the best ever

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  6. Anonymous1:06 PM

    Oyster Stew is a Christmas Eve tradition in my family! Most of us find it vile, so we also make potato soup. ;) My grandma loved it, my dad loves it, and my fiancée loves it. No one else eats the stuff.

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  7. Yes! We have oyster stew every Christmas Eve. We also make a batch of clam chowder for the oyster-averse. I love it, but my grandma makes it with half and half (because holidays). It has a really yummy, briney quality.

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  8. Maria1:48 PM

    This is my husband's favorite and his "signature dish" ha! The rest of us in the family are lactose intolerant. While we like it, it can be rough unless we load up on lactaid pills or use lactose free milk.

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  10. My mom used to make that for my dad. A couple of my siblings like it too. Not me, I always thought it was gross. Comfort food for me is a bowl of home bottled peaches or raspberries and toast with peanut butter. We ate that for dessert a lot as kids. I still have it for supper on Sunday nights quite often.

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  11. Anonymous9:26 AM

    I love oyster stew my Mom and I used to have it every Christmas Eve before we went to church!!! marsha@tubbslanefarm.com

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  12. Rachel6:17 PM

    My grandmother grew up in an orphanage in central IL, and thus had some interesting comfort food meals she passed on to all of us. However, Im the only one to continue to love and cherish this one: saltine crackers, a hunk of Braunschweiger (liverwurst) and a slather of mayo. I had it just this weekend! All while my family and friends dry heaved in the corners of the room. ;)

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  13. This isn't weird to me at all! My brother continues our fam tradition, making my grandma's oyster dressing on T-giving. I LOVE bivalves (lol) & anchovies. We grew up on Breakstones (the sour cream brand) clam dip with Mikesell's Groovy potato chips which they stopped making the dip, so I came up with my own recipe combining ones I found on the internet! Canned clams are always in my cupboard for dip, or my other fav: pasta with white clam sauce. Then canned anchovies for aglio olio, & I always order them on the side with pizza! Oysters weren't my first love, but like you I've made myself love them. Mmmmmm!

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  14. Oyster Stew, pretty much as you've described it - except we make it with evaporated milk and don't use the oyster juice in the can and there's about half a stick of butter in it - is one of my favorite things.

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