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Warm up a brisk winter walk along the Great South Bay with a piping hot crock of oyster stew simmering over a roaring campfire. Grab some friends, pull up a driftwood log and embrace the chilly weather.
Great South Bay Oyster Stew
Recipe by C. Prather
2½ dozen shucked oysters with their liquor (We used Blue Island oysters from the Great South Bay.)
2 cups bottled clam juice
1 cup chicken stock
4 ounces thick-cut bacon, diced (We used Ridgewood Pork Store’s double-smoked bacon.)
4 tablespoons butter
1 large or 2 medium leeks (white and light-green parts only, thinly sliced)
1 bay leaf
1 large clove garlic, minced
1½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut in ½-inch dice
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 cups heavy cream
6 ounces baby spinach leaves, thick stems removed
A pinch of red pepper flakes or more if desired
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine the oyster liquor, clam juice and chicken stock to form a broth, set aside.
In your favorite soup pot over medium heat, brown the bacon till fat is rendered and bacon is golden brown. Remove bacon with slotted spoon to paper towel–lined dish, set aside for garnish.
Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from pot. Add the butter. Add sliced leeks, sauté till soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add bay leaf and garlic. Sauté 30 seconds more. Add reserved broth and potatoes to pot. Bring to boil and then simmer until the potatoes are tender on outside but still firm on the inside, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Smash a few of the cooked potatoes with spoon to thicken broth. Add nutmeg, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Add the cream, bring back to a simmer and stir in the spinach. Cook until just wilted.
Add the oysters and a nice pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes until oysters are done.
Serve immediately or, if adventurous, reheat over a campfire in a cast-iron Dutch oven.