Thursday, November 22, 2012

Trailer Trad Thanksgiving: Oyster Stew Breakfast Tradition

Thanksgiving is about tradition and memories. For me, my family's best Thanksgiving tradition is oyster stew for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. This we have done my entire life and my mom probably has had oyster stew for Thanksgiving (and Christmas) breakfast since she was a little girl. Why oysters? Why breakfast?
 Virginia has a proud oyster producing history and, no doubt, the succulent bi-valves have made their way up the Rappahannock River by flatboat to the rest of the state for hundreds of years. Even more than that, oysters were one of the few 'exotic' foods available in the country because they were canned early on and so where available in country stores when other things (like overnight shipped lobster, free-range filet mignon, etc.) were not available. This is just a guess but I'll bet that my grandfather Troy picked up a gallon before Thanksgiving because they were special. Making oyster stew out of them made them more special. How could you up the anty any more than that?

By serving oyster stew for breakfast. Having the sea tang of oysters serves as a fine counterpoint to another Old Domion delicacy- country ham. Don't know about 'country ham?' Before people connected sodium with negative health consequences, folks in Virginia (and North Carolina) enjoyed ALOT of country ham. It's very salty and delicious. Now, it's a treat to maybe have a few times a year. You combine country ham, oyster stew and my mom's homemade biscuits and you have perhaps the best meal that you will ever eat. I know that it is probably mine.

In addition to how well it compliments biscuits, a few eggs-over-hard, country ham and the rest, there is something about walking into the kitchen with frost still heavy on the windows and wood smoke in the air. Autumn. Another steaming bowl of stew with oyster crackers and pepper please. And just one more biscuit.

Trailer Trad's Family Recipe for Oyster Stew

12oz. oysters & liquid (or 'liquor')
3 tbsp. butter
3 cups milk
1/2 tsp.salt
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. paprika

Simmer oysters & liquid in butter for 3 minutes or until edges begin to curl.
Scald milk in separate saucepan over low heat, add oysters & seasonings.
Serve hot but do not boil.


Philip Weeks said...

I remember as a child (I am now 80 years old) my grand father always had Oyster Stew for breakfast on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. I have continued the tradition myself although not many in our family do so.

Trailer Trad said...


Excellent work! We young lads have to keep the great traditions going!