Expert Advice On How To Avoid The Biggest Oyster Stew Mistake

So, you want to make an oyster stew. You'll need a good recipe, of course. (Might we suggest our Virginia oyster stew?) You're also going to need oysters, milk or cream, and butter, along with some seasonings and maybe some oyster crackers (which are not made with oysters) to go on top when your stew is done. Once you've assembled all of these ingredients, are you set to go? Well, almost, but you might want to spare another moment or so to take to some expert advice provided to Mashed by Neal Bodenheimer, who founded and still tends bar at New Orleans' Cure. While Cure is primarily a cocktail bar, it does offer a few upscale nibbles such as caviar and escargot, and from time to time, oyster dishes are featured on the menu. Bodenheimer knows a thing or two about oyster stew, and in his opinion, the worst thing you can do when making it is overcooking the dairy.

As Bodenheimer tells us, "You have to be gentle with your milk product." What he means by this is that you should be careful not to overheat it at any point in the cooking process, suggesting that the heat be kept below a simmer. This will help to prevent the milk or cream from curdling or scalding.

Keeping an eye on the temperature also benefits the oysters

While Neal Bodenheimer's top tip for making oyster stew revolves around cooking the creamy component, he says that keeping the heat low actually serves two purposes. "You don't want your oysters to be overcooked," he explains. Since overdone oysters can be rubbery, he advises putting them in right at the end and continuing to keep the heat low to ensure that this doesn't happen. He also notes that you should also add any liquid that comes with the oysters, as this will help to deepen the flavor.

Bodenheimer says that once the oysters are added to the stew, he will often keep the temperature below a simmer. "I really want them soft," Bodenheimer says, noting that only the gentlest poaching will achieve this. It's also important to know when the oysters are done cooking so you can take the stew off the stove at the right time. Once the edges start to curl up, they're ready. This means that it's time to eat, so bon appétit!