Oysters rank up there in my 10 most sexy things to cook and eat.
This is a luxurious stew often made at New Years and sometimes at
Thanksgiving, but either way it embodies special occasions for me.
Much of this dish can be made in advance, which also makes it excellent
for a holiday menu. There is an old myth in the south that says
you should only eat oysters in the months that have an "R"
in them, leaving May through August out of the question. During
these months the oysters spawn, and the heat and humidity are brutal,
making it hard to keep them fresh. Or, maybe it's too hot during
these months to promote the kind of "freshness" associated
with people after they've eaten oysters. --JB
large smoked ham hock, to the shin
( If only knuckles are available use 2 and have your butcher cut
them in half on the saw.)
1/2 gallon light chicken stock
Tablespoons olive oil
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2-3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 large onion coarsely chopped
jalapeno pepper, seeded
1 small yukon gold potato, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 bulb fennel, coarsely chopped
2 blades celery, coarsely chopped
1 leek, white only, cleaned carefully of sand
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon kosher salt
teaspoon toasted and ground cumin seeds
teaspoon toasted and ground coriander seeds
teaspoon cayenne pepper
teaspoon ground white pepper
2 cups white wine
5 cups fish fumet
Tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and finely diced
1carrot, peeled and finely diced
bulb fennel, finely diced
30 small oysters, shucked and stored in their natural liquor
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 bunch fresh chives, sliced thin
1 teaspoon chili oil
the garnish vegetables in a small amount of olive oil and reserve.
the ham hock into a sauce pot with the light chicken stock. Cover
it and simmer over low heat until tender, approximately 1 ½
hours. Add water as necessary to keep the hocks mostly covered with
liquid. Turn the hocks occasionally to promote even cooking. The
meat should be falling off of the bone when done. Cool the hocks,
reserve for later and reserve the delicious resulting broth. When
the hocks have cooled, pull the meat off of the bones and cut them
into bite size garnish pieces. Reserve for later.
a 6-quart sauce pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the butter
and allow it to bubble until the bubbling stops, add the cloves
of garlic and allow it to soften until beginning to brown on the
edges. Add the onions and jalapeno and cook until soft and just
beginning to brown. Add the potato, fennel, leek and celery. Cook
gently until all veggies are softening.
bay leaf, cumin, coriander, salt, cayenne and white pepper. Cook
for 1 minute to release the oils from the spices. Add the white
wine and cook it until nearly dry. Add the fish fumet and allow
it to reduce by about half.
add the ham hock broth and allow it to simmer until the flavors
have melted and it tastes delicious-about 45 minutes. Remove the
bay leaf and carefully purée the entire soup in a high-speed
blender. A food processor will not do this job. Use a blender.
can make the soup 1-2 days in advance up to this point.)
the soup to a clean pot, add the ham hock meat and return to a gentle
simmer. The stew wants to be slightly thick, but it's only especially
sexy if it's not too thick. If necessary, add a small amount of
stock too thin it.
before you are ready to serve the stew, remove it from the fire
and add the oysters with their liquor. Allow them to cook a minute
or so, stirring occasionally, just until they begin to curl. Divide
the vegetable garnish between 12 hot bowls or put it into one large
soup terrine, and pour the hot soup over it. Sprinkle the top with
chopped chives and drizzle a very small amount of chili oil on top
of the stew.