Ris Lacoste
Executive Chef, The 1789 Restaurant
Washington, DC

1789 Oyster and Celery Stew with Smithfield Ham and Walnuts

6 servings

1 bulb celery root, peeled and cut into coarse chunks
6 cups heavy cream
Salt and ground white pepper
3 shallots, minced
1 cup walnuts
2 stalks celery, very finely diced
1/2 bunch chives, finely diced
3 oz. cooked Smithfield Ham, very finely diced
24 oysters, shucked
Peanut or olive oil
2 1/2 cups Champagne or white wine
1 cup fish stock
1/2 cup flour

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To prepare: Make the celery root cream. Place the chopped celeriac (celery root) in a small heavy based pan and add heavy cream barely to cover, probably around 1 cup. Cook gently (to avoid scorching) until the celeriac is cooked through and very soft. Set aside until just cool enough to handle but still warm. Puree in a blender for 2-3 minutes until very smooth. Season with salt and ground white pepper. Set aside until ready to use. The celeriac cream may be made up to 3 days ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator. Prepare the shallots, walnuts, celery, chives and ham as noted in the list of ingredients. Shuck the oysters over a strainer, reserving the liquid to add to the stew. Handle each oyster to assure they are free of shells and pat dry with a paper towel.

To make the stew: In a heavy based sauce pan, heat a drop of oil. Add the shallots and cook until soft. Add the champagne or white wine, reserved oyster liqueur and enough fish stock to make 1 cup OR just the oyster liqueur, celeriac cream and 5 cups of heavy cream. Bring just to a boil and gently cook until reduced almost by half or to desired consistency. Season with salt, ground white pepper and a few shots of Tabasco to taste. While the stew is reducing, lightly flour the oysters, shaking off any excess flour and season with salt and pepper. Heat a dash of oil in a sautÈ pan and sear the oysters (a few at a time to maintain the high heat of the pan necessary for searing) for a second or two on each side just until the oysters are golden and crisp. Set aside on a paper towel to drain, preferably in a warm place.

To serve: Ladle 6-8 oz. of cream base into each warmed bowl. In the center, place 4 of the seared oysters ands sprinkle generously with the chopped walnuts, diced ham, diced celery and chopped chives.

Wine Recommendations: Pouilly FumÈ, Pursang, Didier Dagueneau

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