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Wild Game Cooking

Oyster Stew Recipe – Southern Oyster Stew

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Winter is oyster time, and this recipe for a Southern-style oyster stew is a simple, brothy, creamy soup that highlights fresh oysters. Oyster stew is a tradition both in the South and, surprisingly, the Midwest.

The best oyster stew is made from fresh oysters, in the shell. Use them if you can, and you should be able to get them, because winter is oyster season everywhere. The whole only eating oysters in a month with an “R” is partially true; they are fattest (and safest) then.

If you can’t or don’t want to deal with whole oysters, you can still make oyster stew with shucked oysters.

I got a bunch of oysters from my friends over at Admiral Shellfish Company in Alabama, who raise oysters in an area that can get incredibly saline, which makes for a saltier, tastier oyster. There had been a drought there lately, so the oysters were especially nice.

They’re little, and I had to eat a few on the halfshell. But I’ll be honest: I don’t love shucking oysters, especially for oyster stew, where you need lots of them. There are alternate methods, however.

Shuck Oysters Easily

Shucking oysters is an art, one some people are very good at. I am not. I’m better at shucking clams, which is what I grew up with. So I use either heat or cold to do the work for me.

The cold method is as simple as freezing the whole oysters, then thawing them in a bowl in the fridge. They will die in the freezer, and partially open. Shucking them once they’ve thawed overnight is easy. You can wait up to two, maybe three days before cooking these oysters.

The heat method is basically baking your oysters. Preheat the oven to 400°F and set the oysters, deep side down, on a rack set over a baking sheet. Most types of oysters have a thin, flat side, the top, and a deeper cup side, the bottom.

Heat the oysters until most have opened, which should only take maybe 10 minutes tops. Keep an eye on them.

In this case, you will want to add the oysters to your oyster stew in the last 5 minutes or so, since they’ll be mostly cooked already.

Strain the Liquor for Oyster Stew

Regardless of whether you use pre-shucked oysters, which come in their liquor, or if you shuck them yourself or use one of the easier methods above, you will want to catch all the juice that comes out of them.

Alas, grit happens. The shells are brittle, they can be dirty, etc. I highly recommend that you strain your oyster liquor through a strainer that has a paper towel set inside. Strain into a clean bowl.

This oyster liquor is the essence of oyster stew.

Oyster Stew Not a Stew

Yes, that’s right: Technically speaking, oyster stew is a soup, not a stew, in that the broth really is the star. Thus all the effort to getting that liquor.

In a pinch, you can use store-bought clam juice or homemade fish stock instead of oyster liquor, but your oyster stew will not be as good.

The rest is crazy easy: Onions, butter, an herb, cream, black or white pepper. That’s it in a traditional oyster stew.

It bears some resemblence to my family’s clam chowder, except that this is even lighter, with no potato or pork product. You could, if you want, use bacon and bacon fat instead of butter, and add peeled, diced potatoes to your oyster stew, but that’s not what I do.

I have seen Charleston versions of this stew with rice grits cooked long, which thickens the stew a little like a classic Massachusetts chowder.

So if you want your oyster stew thicker, you can add maybe 1/2 cup of rice grits (or reduce regular rice to grits in a spice grinder) in with the onions, and let them stew in the oyster liquor until soft — don’t add the oysters themselves until the end though.

A bowl of oyster stew on a table.

Serving and Storing

Oyster stew comes together quickly, and is best made and then eaten. You can reheat leftovers very gently on the stove, but it just won’t be quite as nice.

I do not recommend freezing it, as the cream gets all weird, and the oysters’ texture suffers.

Generally speaking, oyster stew is served as a first course in a larger meal, usually Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve. It’s a light opener to many more dishes.

If you are serving oyster stew solo, as a meal, I’d add lots of oyster crackers and/or bread.

If you liked this recipe, please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and a comment below; I’d love to hear how everything went. If you’re on Instagram, share a picture and tag me at huntgathercook.

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Set the oysters on a cooling rack set on a baking sheet. Heat the butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Roast the oysters and cook the onions in the butter slowly. It important to cook the onions slowly and gently so they soften fully, but do not brown. You might want to cover the pot and cook them on low heat while you shuck the oysters.

  • If you are using pre-shucked oysters, or you just shuck raw oysters normally, just make sure the onions cook slow and at least 10 minutes, up to 20. Slow and low is the key here. Salt them as they cook.

  • While this is happening, strain the oyster liquor through a sieve with a paper towel set inside. Save this liquor, as it’s the essence of the stew.

  • When the oysters and onions are ready, add the oysters and the liquor and the cream to the pot. You might need maybe a cup or two of water to fill things out, or you can add in extra oyster liquor, clam juice or fish stock here.

  • Season the stew with the pepper and the crab boil or a pinch of cayenne. Let this simmer 5 minutes, then stir in the chives and serve. Oyster crackers are a traditional garnish, and I highly recommend them if this is your main meal.

I love what the liquid crab boil brings to this stew, but it’s not easy to find outside the South. Use a pinch of cayenne or Cajun seasoning instead if you can’t get it. 

Calories: 133kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 38mg | Sodium: 9mg | Potassium: 92mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 540IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 0.3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Source link: https://honest-food.net/oyster-stew-recipe/ by Hank Shaw at honest-food.net

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Wild Game Cooking

Rhubarb Syrup Recipe – How to Make Rhubarb Syrup

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Here’s how to make rhubarb syrup, which is fantastic on pancakes, in soft drinks or cocktails, or as a glaze for chicken or other poultry.

Making rhubarb syrup couldn’t be easier: Bury chopped rhubarb in sugar and let time do the rest.

It really is that simple. Chop stalks of rhubarb, put them in a glass jar, like a Mason jar, and bury them in white sugar. Put the lid on the jar and shake to remove any air pockets. Add enough sugar to cover the rhubarb by about 1/2 inch.

Overnight, the sugar will extract the moisture from the rhubarb, and you’ll have a syrup.

A few pointers:

  • As the sugar absorbs the liquid from the rhubarb, keep adding a little more each day, about 2 tablespoons at a time. Shake after each time. Stop when no more sugar can be absorbed. You’ll know this by seeing a layer of sugar at the bottom of the jar the morning after you’ve shaken everything all up.
  • If you don’t do this, you run the risk of the syrup not being concentrated enough, and if that happens, it can ferment.
  • Once the syrup is concentrated, let it sit on the counter a few days at room temperature. This will help darken the syrup from a light pink to a rosy red. The longer you let it sit, even in the fridge, the pinker it will get, up to about 2 weeks.
  • If you want a redder rhubarb syrup, add a handful of strawberries when you start. Some very red varieties of rhubarb will make a crimson syrup by themselves.
  • Strain out the rhubarb and discard, or use in rhubarb bread or muffins.
  • Once finished, the rhubarb syrup will keep indefinitely in the fridge.

How to Use Rhubarb Syrup

I initially made it to add to summertime gin and tonics. Make a G&T the way you like it, then add a spoonful or two of rhubarb syrup and you have a quintessential Upper Midwestern cocktail.

Or, skip the gin and tonic and go with a mocktail of rhubarb syrup, lime juice and seltzer. This is a baller afternoon refresher.

You can also use it as a pancake syrup, or wherever else you want a drizzle of springtime.

In a savory application, mix some rhubarb syrup with red wine or balsamic vinegar to make an easy gastrique sauce, which you can then use with chicken or any other white meat; it would even be good with a firm, white fish like grilled swordfish.

If you liked this recipe, please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and a comment below; I’d love to hear how everything went. If you’re on Instagram, share a picture and tag me at huntgathercook.

Source link: https://honest-food.net/rhubarb-syrup-recipe/ by Hank Shaw at honest-food.net

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Wild Game Cooking

Elderflower Syrup Recipe – How to Make Elderflower Cordial

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Elderflower syrup is sunlight and rainbows in a bottle. Golden, floral and sweet, this makes everything it touches better. Here’s how to make it at home. 

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Late springtime and early summer are the best time to gather elderflowers to make elderflower syrup.

Finding the buttercream flowers isn’t too tough: Elderberries grow everywhere near rivers, and other well-watered places. You can see them as early as April in the South and California, and as late as September in the high mountains or far north, like in Canada.

I’ve seen elderflowers all over the place in Georgia and Florida in early spring. The farther north you live — or the higher in elevation — the later you must wait. And keep in mind you are looking for blue or black elderberries, not red elderberries. You want Sambucus nigra or S. mexicana.

Elderflowers on the plant. Elderflowers on the plant.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Collecting Elderflowers 

Keep in mind that an elderberry bush is a large plant, and can even grow into a small tree. Study the leaves in the photo above: They are a lush dark green, slightly serrated on their edges, and form on stalks; each leaf should be opposite to another. The flowers are cream-colored, not white.

Sometimes over-eager foragers fail to look at the plant they are picking from and grab hemlock by mistake. This can be fatal. But hemlock looks nothing like elderberry, so I have a tough time figuring out how this mistake happens…

A good rule to live by is to not take more than a few flower heads from each elderberry bush: This ensures that the bush will have enough to spread itself, it makes you find more bushes — it’s never a good thing to have only one spot for anything you forage for — and, most importantly, selective picking means you can come back in a few months for the berries.

Only choose the most beautiful flower heads; you don’t want flowers that have yet to open or are past their prime. Collect them in a paper bag so they can breathe. Plastic will make them wilt and sweat.

You will need a lot of flowers to make cordial, so grab a big grocery sack full.

Making Elderflower Syrup

Keep in mind that elderflower syrup is not alcoholic. It can be anything from a light, ready-to-drink concoction, to a full-on syrup that can keep a year or more and is used as a base for other things, like elderflower champagne

If you want to make elderflower liqueur, this is my recipe for that

Elderflower cordial has a subtle flavor. What does it taste like? It is more of an aroma thing, although the elderflower “lemonade” I am drinking right now has a certain tannic backbone to it that says it is not just lemonade.

You make the base for elderflower syrup by preparing a simple syrup (1:1 sugar to water), bringing it to a boil and pouring it over lemon zest, a little lemon juice, lots of elderflowers, and a little citric acid, which adds flavor and keeps everything stable. You let this sit at room temperature for as little as a few hours, or as much 2 or 3 days to macerate, and the result after you strain it through cheesecloth is this lovely-looking syrup.

NOTE: If you just want to make a simple elderflower syrup, which will ferment quickly if you don’t keep it cold, skip all the lemon and citric acid. For a quart, boil 3 cups sugar and 3 cups water. Let it cool enough so you can stick your finger in it, then pour it over a quart Mason jar full of elderflowers. Steep 2 days in the fridge, then strain. Use within 3 weeks. 

Using Elderflower Syrup

I add about a tablespoon of the syrup to a pint of water to make an elderflower cordial with the level of flavor Gatorade has; add more syrup for a stronger drink. It tastes a lot like an Arnold Palmer (50-50 iced sweet tea and lemonade), but as elderflowers are known to be seriously good for you, I like this better.

elderflower liqueur recipeelderflower liqueur recipe
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Years ago, Holly added some syrup to vodka to make an “Elder-tini,” which, when added to some cherries, make a damn good cocktail. Elderflower syrup is also excellent mixed with Champagne (a classic), and its Italian cousin Prosecco. My friend Heather makes a drink called a Caddisfly Nymph, which is elderflower syrup, Prosecco and a touch of Peychaud bitters.

Elderflower syrup makes a great glaze for chicken or pheasant breasts, or, when mixed with a champagne vinegar, a helluva gastrique (sweet and sour sauce) for poultry, rabbit or fish.

  • Snip off the flowers from the stalks into a large bowl or jar that will hold everything. Try to remove as much of the stems as you can; they are toxic. A few stray bits of stems will not hurt you, but you want to minimize it.

  • Zest the lemons and add it to the bowl, then the citric acid and lemon juice.

  • Bring the sugar and water to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve. Let the syrup cool enough so that you can stick your finger in it without getting burned; you can leave it to cool to room temperature, too. Pour the syrup over the flowers, lemons et al and stir to combine. Cover the bowl or jar and leave it for 2 or 3 days.

  • When you are ready, strain it through a fine-meshed sieve lined with cheesecloth or a paper towel into a clean Mason jar. Seal the jar and store in the fridge.

  • To serve, pour 1 to 3 tablespoons of the syrup into a pint glass and add water or seltzer. Or you can add a tablespoon to a glass of sparkling wine, or to a couple shots of vodka or gin.

This recipe makes about 1 quart. 

Calories: 193kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Fat: 0.2g | Sodium: 3mg | Potassium: 1mg | Sugar: 50g | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 0.03mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Source link: https://honest-food.net/elderflower-cordial/ by Hank Shaw at honest-food.net

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Wild Game Cooking

Chile Verde Recipe – How to Make Pork Chile Verde

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

This chile verde recipe is my go-to Mexican comfort food, easy to make and it keeps well all week. If you’re not familiar with it, Chile verde is braised meat with lots of green elements, like green chiles, cilantro and other herbs, as well as tomatillos.

Chile verde in a bowl, ready to eat.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

I should be clear at the start that chile verde is not green chili, nor is it the New Mexican dish green chile stew. Those are great dishes, but they are American. Chile verde is Mexican.

It is a staple in Mexican restaurants around here. This chile verde recipe is based on several I’ve read, or eaten in the Sonoran Desert area around Arizona, although there are variations on this dish all over both Mexico and our own Desert Southwest.

Wherever it comes from, this is a damn good dish, up there with my chile colorado and venison chili.

Chile Verde Ingredients

Unlike green chili or green chile stew, Mexican chile verde requires tomatillos, those cousins of the tomato you see encased in a papery husk. They come in many varieties, from great big domesticated ones to these funny little tomatillos that grow in my garden.

Wild tomatillos on a plateWild tomatillos on a plate
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

I never planted them. They just appeared. Lots of gardeners in my neighborhood get them, so I think they are wild, or at least feral. There do happen to be a number of various “ground cherry” species growing all over the country, so I am not certain which one this is. All I can tell you is that this is a welcome weed.

So whenever they’re ripe, I pick masses of the little buggers. You can find them in Mexican markets sold as tomatillos de milpa.

You strip off the husk, and inside is a kinda sticky green tomato-like thing. When they get perfect, the fruit fills the husk and sticks to it, so sometimes you may need to husk them under cold water. You want tomatillos when they are green and unripe; these turn purple when they are dead ripe, and the big ones turn sort of creamy-yellow.

When I am inundated with tomatillos, I make loads of my tomatillo salsa verde, which is great on tortilla chips, and can it. This is key, because, once canned, you have almost instant chile verde.

Other than tomatillos, you need other green ingredients: cilantro and a couple kinds of green chiles. I use a mix of Anaheim and/or poblano chiles, plus serranos or jalapenos for heat. In late summer, I get access to green Hatch chiles, which, when hot, take care of all your green chile needs.

The Sauce

Making chile verde sauce is kind of a production, like most good Mexican sauces. (Ever make mole? Not easy.) You put the peppers, onion, tomatillos and garlic on a grill or under a broiler to char, then peel the garlic and chiles — both hot and mild — cilantro, etc. and chop up everything in a food processor.

As I mentioned above, you can do all this way ahead of time by making salsa verde and canning it.

Once you have your salsa verde, making chile verde is easy. Keep in mind that tomatillos are acidic. For geeks, their average pH is 3.8, which is only a little milder than an orange. This means your chile verde will be acidic, too. So go easy on the lime until you’ve tasted it.

If you end up with sour chile verde, serve it with sour cream or Mexican crema. Yes, those are sour, too, but the dairy helps a lot.

A bowl of chile verdeA bowl of chile verde
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Meat in Chile Verde

Meat is up to you. Think pork first, wild or domesticated. Chicken, pheasant, turkey (wild or domestic) are other good choices. Think light meat first, although I will admit, it’s damn good with beef, venison and yes, even things like squirrels or jackrabbits. Play with it!

I serve my chile verde with rice, Mexican cotija cheese, avocado, cilantro and a dollop of crema. You can also serve chile verde on tortillas, and a chile verde burrito is damn good.

OTHER GREEN CHILE DISHES

In addition to green chile stew, here are some other recipes that make good use of roasted green Hatch chiles, which I love.

  • Keep the pork or wild boar in large pieces — cut them only small enough to fit into your Dutch oven or other heavy, lidded pot. Salt the meat well and brown it in the pot in the lard over medium-high heat. When the pork has browned, remove it and add the onions. Cook the onions until they get a little brown on the edges. Return the pork to the pot, add the bay leaves, stock and as much water as you need to submerge the meat. Cover pot and cook over low heat until the meat wants to fall apart — about 3 hours for a wild hog shoulder, less for store-bought.

  • To prep the sauce, slice the tomatillos in half and arrange, cut side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Quarter the onion and put that on the sheet. Put the garlic cloves on the sheet, too and set under the broiler. Remove when they are a little charred, but not burned to a crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes. Or, you can char everything on a comal, which is what I do.

  • While the tomatillos are broiling, set the jalapenos and the poblano or Anaheim chiles directly on your gas burner or over your grill. (If you have an electric stove, add them to the broiler as well.) Blacken the skins of the peppers, turning them as needed. Once the skins are black, put the chiles in a paper bag. Close the bag to let the peppers steam themselves for 20 minutes. When they’ve steamed, take them out of the bag and remove the skins. Do this in the sink to minimize the mess. Remove all the seeds and the stems of the peppers, too. (Note: If you’ve ever been burned working with chiles, you might want to wear gloves for this. Working with the roasted jalapenos might irritate your skin.)

  • Put the tomatillos, onion and the roasted chiles into a food processor. Peel the garlic and put the garlic in, too. Add the 1/2 cup of cilantro, oregano, epazote if using, and a healthy pinch of salt. Buzz until everything is combined but there are still some little chunks; you want texture to the sauce. Mix in the cumin and set the sauce aside. Fry this sauce in the lard, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat. 

  • When the meat’s ready, lift it out of the pot and onto a baking sheet to cool a little. Keep the pot uncovered and turn the heat to high to boil down the braising liquid. Chop, or shred the meat with your fingers or with two forks.

  • Once the braising liquid has boiled down by about 2/3, remove the bay leaves and return the pork to the pot. Add the chile verde sauce and mix well. Serve over white rice with cilantro, some Mexican hard cheese and sour cream.

A note on the chile verde sauce. I make big batches and can it, which is a lot easier. It’s basically the same recipe as here, only with a bit of added vinegar. If you’re looking for a base recipe, this one is a good start. Once you make this, it will keep for a week in the fridge.

Keys to Success

  • Take your time browning the meat. It adds a lot of flavor. 
  • Adding the chile verde sauce at the end keeps flavors bright, and the sauce greener. That said, you can add it to the braising liquid and simmer it all together. This is traditional, and is tasty, but the sauce will be browner. 
  • This is a guisado, a thick stew you can put on a tortilla. You don’t want this thin, so if it is, cook it down uncovered. 
  • Go easy on the hot peppers. It’s easy to add them, hard to tame the heat if you overdid it. If you did, add potatoes; they help.
  • You do want lots of blackened char on the vegetables. That adds a ton of flavor here, and you will absolutely notice it. 

Calories: 690kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 85g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 278mg | Sodium: 359mg | Potassium: 1964mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 448IU | Vitamin C: 65mg | Calcium: 118mg | Iron: 7mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Source link: https://honest-food.net/wild-boar-chile-verde-recipe/ by Hank Shaw at honest-food.net

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