Historically, oyster stew was a poor man’s meal. But, at the hands of chef Robert Stehling, this is a pauper’s plate no more. The Hominy Grill owner serves Charleston oysters in a sherry and cream soup that’s as warm and inviting as a fireside seat on a chilly winter night.
Stehling picked up the recipe while working at Chapel Hill’s Crook’s Corner before opening Hominy in 1996. The James Beard Award-winning chef says that with a cook time of only 15 minutes, it makes for an easy holiday dish. To dazzle your own kith and kin, start by cooking five slices of bacon for garnish. “Then turn up the heat and toss in your onions,” explains Stehling. “Their caramelization gives the stew its color and flavor.” Add garlic to the pan, but don’t let it brown, he warns, as that can throw off the flavor profile. “You’ll know the oysters are poached when the sides curl up,” the chef notes. When you’re ready to eat, scoop a hearty serving of Carolina Gold rice into the center of each bowl. Garnish with chives and bacon, and Santa might give up cookies for just a spoonful.