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After all those holiday feasts, Lowcountry oysters are simple, fresh and delicious

Steamed oysters go best with hot sauce and fresh lemon.
Steamed oysters go best with hot sauce and fresh lemon. Forrest Tanner/ Special to the Bluffton Packet

First came the Thanksgiving feast in November of turkey, dressing, gravy, mac and cheese, sweet potato casserole, side vegetables and several desserts.

It was followed by December’s Christmas dinner with more of the same plus baked ham, fruit cake and other rich desserts.

By the time January rolled around, it’s actually refreshing to sit around a table of just fresh steamed oysters as your feast of the day.

What makes the oyster feast more appreciated and tastier is when a couple of sea-faring family fishermen have braved the cold temperatures to put the boat afloat on low tide and navigate to a public oyster bed to harvest their limit of hand-picked oysters for the day — two bushels per person. Then, when they have gathered their cache and returned to dry land, they have the chore of washing the boat and then washing the oysters to remove mud from them before steaming.

All of this involves time, a lot of work and expense when you think about it. It takes mucho cash for boat, gas and recreational fishing license. In the long run, it would be cheaper to just run out and purchase a bushel of oysters to steam or a pint or two of ready to eat, but getting them yourself is more fun and more gratifying. Plus they’re “off-the-mud-flat-fresh!”

After eating your fill of steamed oysters, it’s time to open and set aside a batch for a two oyster recipes.

Oyster stew is always a winner on a cold and blustery day.

Oyster Stew for Two

1 cup fresh opened oysters

1/3 stick butter

1 cup cream + 1 ½ cup milk

Dash of salt/pepper.

Combine cream and milk in microwave safe bowl and microwave 1 minute and set aside. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add oysters, salt and pepper to taste to melted butter and cook about 5 minutes until oyster curl around edge. Stir in warmed milk and heat thoroughly. Do not let milk boil.

Serve immediately with oyster crackers.

Brown Oyster Gravy

4 slices bacon cut in small pieces

1 med onion diced

2 tablespoons flour

1½ cups water

2 cups fresh oysters

Fry bacon until crisp and remove from pan. Saute’ diced onion in bacon grease until brown. Shake flour into grease and onions stirring until flour is brown. Add water stirring until mixture is smooth. Add crisp bacon pieces and oysters. Stir and cook until oyster edges curl.

Serve immediately on rice or hominy. This makes enough for 5 or 6 hungry appetites.

A simple, no-measuring recipe is to fry up a batch of raw oysters. Sprinkle with Old Bay seasoning or just black pepper. Dredge in flour and drop into a deep fryer with basket with hot oil until golden brown and crisp.

Serving hot with ketchup on the side for dipping will keep a hungry crowd wanting more.

Living around salt water whets the appetite and our Lowcountry clean waters are home to great tasting shellfish.

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