Ocracoke Oyster Stew and Grits

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Fresh NC Oysters by Layden’s Seafood

With the grits as a base, this is an interesting twist on oyster stew. Serves 6 appetizers or 4 entrees.

1 quart shucked oysters, with juice

4 tablespoons butter

1 ⁄4 cup finely chopped celery

1 ⁄4 cup finely chopped onion

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1 ⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1 to 11 ⁄2 cups heavy cream

1 batch cooked grits, kept warm

2 tablespoons thinly chopped fresh chives, scallions, or parsley

Drain oysters, reserving juice in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring juice to a boil, and boil until somewhat reduced, about 10 minutes. Strain into a bowl through a fine mesh sieve or through cheesecloth to remove any sand. Set aside. In the same large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, and add celery and onion. Stir constantly, cooking for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add the strained oyster juice, and bring just to a boil again. Add oysters, Tabasco sauce, and salt and pepper. Lower heat, and simmer until edges of oysters begin to curl. Add enough cream, depending on how liquid oysters are, to have a thick broth, and stir until mixture is warmed through. Do not boil. Taste and add more salt and pepper or Tabasco sauce if needed. Serve immediately over individual bowls of grits. Sprinkle with chives, scallions or parsley.

Adapted from Outer Banks Cookbook: Recipes and Traditions from NC’s Barrier Islands by Elizabeth Wiegand