Oyster stew for Christmas eve dinner was a tradition for my wife’s family since she was a young girl. At some point, I do not know when, oyster stew became our Christmas eve dinner tradition too. It probably started when we lived in California and had access to large plump Pacific oysters. In any case, I made oyster stew from shucked oysters sold in a jar last Christmas eve. These oysters are not anything like the Pacific oysters we used to get but they are certainly good enough to enjoy.
The ultimate oyster stew especially when you can get high quality oysters (i.e can be eaten raw) is to heat up cream, butter, and the oyster liquor and poach the oysters briefly in the mixture then season with celery salt (so call Grand central station style). My recipe is more like oyster chowder but with enough butter and cream to make it still rather decadent.
Oyster: I use 12oz jar of shucked oysters which contained about dozen small to medium sized oysters.
I finely chopped onion (1 medium), celery (1-2 stalks). I sautéed them in a stew pot with melted butter (1 tbs) for a few minutes and added chicken broth (2 cups, the Swanson no-fat, reduced salt, kind), oyster liquor from the jar, and water (1 cup). If I had clam juice, I would have used that instead of chicken broth. I then added peeled and cubed white potatoes (2 large) and carrots (2-3, peeled and cut into similar size as the potatoes). When all the vegetables were cooked (15 minutes), I turned down the flame and added cream (I used light cream, about 1 cup). I brought the liquid just to the start of a boil, I added the oysters and gently cooked for another one minute. I tasted the stew and adjusted the seasoning (Kosher salt).
I served the stew with chopped Italian parsley and freshly ground white pepper. With the butter and cream, this is certainly rich enough for us. Even reheated the next day, this was not bad at all.