As a kid my dad and I would harvest oysters while on vacation in the San Juan Islands, we’d bring a jar of cocktail sauce with us to the beach and slurp oysters off the half shell right there on the spot! I was pretty excited when I recently acquired a lot of freshly shucked oysters while visiting some friends at the beach.
I served the smallest oysters raw with a dash of cocktail sauce and I dredged the largest ones in corn meal and fried them until crispy. Best of all was the nice quantity of tender, medium-sized oysters to make a fragrant chowder with.
4 ounces butter
3-4 slides of thick-cut bacon, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 sweet onion, peeled and diced
3-4 parsnips, washed and chopped
2-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
8-10 chantrelle mushrooms, cleaned and sliced (remove any woody ends)
2 cups chicken broth
1 pint heavy cream
1/4 cup dry vermouth
4-6 fresh oysters per person, shucked
salt to taste
green onion curls for garnish
In a deep skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until slightly crisp. Add in the onions, garlic and parsnips and cook until onions are translucent.
Add in the chantrelles, cream and chicken broth. Stir and let the liquids heat up, then remove 1/4 of hot broth and, using a fork, whisk in flour until thickened and lump-free. Stir the flour mixture into the soup. On low heat, bring the soup to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes or until parsnips and mushrooms are fully cooked.
Add the dry vermouth and salt to taste. Line the bottom of four soup bowls with five or six fresh oysters and ladle the hot soup over them, this will prevent overcooking and chewiness. Garnish with green onion curls and serve with warm, crusty artisan bread for dipping in the chowder!
Note: I toasted a few pine nuts and walnuts to sprinkle over the chowder, adding a subtle texture and nutty flavor.
If you make this recipe, snap a pic of your dish and hashtag it #kellylenihancooks. I'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!
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