CREAMY OYSTER STEW

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  • 16 medium oysters
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 small bulb fennel, finely diced, trimmings reserved
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fennel fronds
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 4 slices rustic bread

Shuck the oysters, reserving the meat and half a cup of the oyster liquor or juice. Refrigerate until needed.

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the fennel trimmings, shallot, and garlic; cook until they begin to color lightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let simmer for 3 minutes; add the cream and bay leaf and continue to simmer until the cream is reduced by almost half, about 18 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding the solids.

When the cream is nearly reduced, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the diced fennel and the celery and cook until they become translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the strained cream sauce and bring to a boil. Stir in the lemon juice and zest. Add the oysters and oyster liquor and bring the stew just to a simmer. Remove from the heat and stir in the fennel fronds. Let sit for 30 seconds. Season with salt and white pepper.

Lightly toast the bread slices and place one slice in each of the small shallow serving bowls. Spoon the oyster stew over the bread and serve.

Serves 4

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