Northwest Oyster Stew by Chef Justin Hawkinson of Crave Catering
- 3 dozen cleaned Pacific oysters (ideally fresh and in-shell)
- 1/4 cup butter and 1 lb. butter (keep separate)
- 1 lb. all-purpose flour
- 2 fennel bulbs with tops
- 2 medium leeks, small chop
- 1/4 cup minced garlic
- 2 large white or yellow onions, small chop
- 1/2 cup BelleWood Acres Gin
- 1 gallon water
- 1 quart heavy cream
- salt, pepper, Tabasco, parsley, and tarragon to taste
Clean, trim and small chop the onions, fennel and leeks. Put all unused scraps, skins and tops into a stockpot. Open oysters and scrape flesh/liquid into a container. Put shells in the stockpot with onion scraps and add one gallon of water. Bring stock up to a very high simmer for about 5 minutes, then turn off heat and let it rest.
Put 1 and ¼ lb. of butter into another (heavy bottomed) pot. Add onions, leeks and fennel. Cook on high heat, stirring frequently to soften the vegetables. When onions are soft, add garlic and a few minutes later add flour. Stir for 5 minutes or until roux is smooth and starting to turn golden.
Using a strainer, add 2 cups of the oyster stock to the roux mixture and stir well. Add BelleWood Acres Gin and stir with caution, as gin is flammable at high heat. Remove spoon from pot and have lid handy to smother any fire that rises above the level of the pot. It is not necessary to burn off all the alcohol. Ladle the remaining stock into the pot and add potatoes. Add cream, oysters, salt and pepper, and a couple shakes of Tabasco. When potatoes are done and soup is seasoned to your liking turn off heat and add fresh parsley and tarragon.
Pair with a Frisee Salad for a wonderfully Northwest meal.