Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wicked Oyster Stew

Last autumn, Sandra and I travelled for the first time to Cape Cod.

You'd think that the fact that we live forty minutes north of Boston would mean that we visit the cape every year, but the truth of the matter was that nearly everybody reports that the cape is crowded in the summer, and there isn't much to do the rest of the year there. Well, those reports were wrong.

The two of us stayed at a motel in Wellfleet, MA (about halfway up the cape). For dinner, we took the advice of somebody on the Chowhound's New England board and visited a delightful restaurant called "The Wicked Oyster." Even the name was charming! (The restaurant doesn't seem to have a web site, so I'll give it's location: 50 Main Street, Wellfleet, MA 02667, phone (508) 349-3455.)

We had some terrific food there, and since that was our one and only visit to the place, I'm not qualified to give the place a real review.

The point of this article was that I had an appetizer at The Wicked Oyster that was quite memorable. It was an Oyster Stew that combined Wellfleet Oysters (but of course—we were in Wellfleet!), milk and cream, and a lot of fennel with some other spices.

Well, the recipe haunted me, so I eventually found myself doing a Google search for oyster stew that included fresh fennel, and came upon a recipe called "Lonny's Oyster Stew" on a web site called Sunset, which seems to approximate that wonderful stew I had at The Wicked Oyster.

Oh, and by the way, the cape is wonderful in the autumn. It wasn't crowded at all, and the two of us had fun exploring the cape together. We'll probably visit again this year, and you can bet that The Wicked Oyster will be one of our stops for dinner!

Lonny's Oyster Stew
Yield:Makes 6 servings


¼ pound pancetta or bacon

2 leeks (¾ in. thick), white parts only

2 heads (3 in. wide) fennel

1 teaspoon crushed fennel seed

6 cups half-and-half (light cream) or 2% milk

3 jars (10 oz. each) shucked oysters and their liquor (4 cups total)

¾ cup chopped Italian parsley

1 tablespoon Pernod, Sambuca, or other anise-flavor liqueur (not sweet)

Fresh-ground black pepper


1 to 2 tablespoons

butter or margarine

Cut pancetta into ¼-inch dice. Put in a 5- to 6-quart pan.

Trim and discard root ends from leeks, then rinse well and chop.

Trim and discard tops, root ends, and bruised spots from fennel, then rinse and chop.

Add leeks, fennel, and fennel seed to pancetta and stir often over medium-high heat until limp but not browned, about 5 minutes.

Add cream and oysters and their liquor and turn heat to medium-high. Stir often just until soup is hot but not boiling, about 4 minutes.

Stir in ½ cup parsley, liqueur, and pepper and salt to taste.

Ladle into bowls and sprinkle equally with remaining parsley, then add a dot of butter to each.

Bon Appetit!

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