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What else to serve with oyster stew?

My boyfriend's mom loves oyster stew and we are going to make it for her birthday dinner, which happens to fall on Christmas Eve. Right now it's looking like we'll have rolls and/or cornbread, oyster stew, a light salad, and angel food cake for dessert, but it seems like we should have something else. Any thoughts?

Right now I'm leaning towards either a light pasta after the stew or several different finger foods leading up to the stew.

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  1. I love oyster stew too. It's so rich and creamy. If it were being served to me on a special occasion, I suppose I'd enjoy corn on the cob along with the meal. Some fresh fruit that is lightly grilled would go well also. Some sort of a rice side dish , especially if it is prepared with wild rice and maybe some peas would be a nice addition. Your salad & angel food cake are wonderful idea.

    3 Replies
    1. re: i_am_Lois

      I think you have it about right as it is, though I question the cornbread. -- my taste runs more toward baguette with oyster stew. For your salad you might consider Belgian endives with walnuts, pears & a good Roquefort. Champagne is essential with this.

      1. re: rjbh20

        Example of the salad but made with arugula instead of endive. Dressing was a lemon, shallot & tarragon vinaigrette with walnut oil & a touch of honey.

      2. re: i_am_Lois

        Christmas oyster season and corn on the cob season do not overlap. Avocados would fit in, though.

      3. Ham pairs very well with Oyster Stew. You could serve Ham Biscuits before or serve a full meal after of Baked Ham, Scalloped Potatoes, Watercress Salad and Biscuits. Like Christmas in Virginia!

        5 Replies
        1. re: chefj

          Absolutely! Ham biscuits with drinks. Then sit down to oyster stew, well-browned cheesy potatoes, and a winter greens salad. Dessert with coffee.

          Must secure ham...

          1. re: ellabee

            These guys make a great Hams
            S. Wallace Edwards & Sons
            Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams

            1. re: chefj

              Heh, we actually were lucky enough to visit Benton's last October. Didn't get any ham on that trip, but we did walk away with 10lbs of that unbelievable bacon and several pounds of sausage.

          2. re: chefj

            hmmm... Since it's a birthday party a fun and delicious (and easy!) way to introduce ham is with those looong skinny imported Italian breadsticks wrapped in paper thin slices of prosciutto, Iberico, or Serrano type ham as an accompaniment to the chowder. These types of ham are VERY low moisture so they won't sog up the bread sticks when made ahead and just sticky enough that the ham stays wrapped, Depending on how formal I'm setting the table, I've served them along side a salad compose right on the salad plate, and I've also served them standing on end in a container like pencils.

            1. re: Caroline1

              I like Caroline 1's idea. Serve a nice salad followed by the chowder, cornbread and accompanying the chowder.

              If you want an appetizer - one of my favorites is just a warmed brie (plain flavored - no additions) till soft, thinly sliced granny smith apples and a warm baquette sliced - let people help themselves. It's delicious, nutritious and irresistible.

              Then follow with the above. People will love it!

          3. A little more color and texture to the meal sounds nice, so maybe some sliced fruit with the angel food cake. Otherwise, more oyster stew and cornbread, please!

            1. I like the finger foods leading up to the stew idea; much easier to do ahead, makes the meal more balanced.

              1. Oyster stew is heavenly and a regular offering in my house. For your gathering, an appetizer plate might be nice for a welcoming. Maybe something like a country pate, shrimp and Parmesan canapes, Liptauer cheese and sliced radish on crackers or spinach balls. Also, which cornbread - northern or southern? Quite different and I agree that baguette or toasted croissants may go better. And I support some fruit coulis or grilled fruit might be a good accompaniment with the angel food cake. Sounds like a winner of a spread!

                1. I vote for appetizers or finger foods leading up to the stew. I think a pasta is just another soft dish without much texture following a stew with a soft texture. IMO, a ham main with sides would be too heavy following the stew which is to be the star of the meal (if I understand correctly).

                  If you are going with a southern theme and you are looking for appetizers and you want to do country ham, thin slices of the ham oven dried until crispy like chips adorning a bowl of pimento cheese is a great opening to your meal for example. I'd then move on to the salad then the stew. Serve with cornbread, which is southern.

                  Fresh fruit other than cored fruits like apples, pears, figs or citrus will not be seasonal at that time of the year. Make a fruit compote with any of those and/or maybe some dried cherries for the cake. Maybe some flavored whipped cream. Grilling out of season fruits will not make them taste better if they are already flavorless.

                  1. Another idea:
                    Serve the salad first, use some interesting greens like arugala or purslane, add some shaved fennel, cubes of roasted butter nut squash, sliced almonds, and a bright vinegrette.
                    Then with the main this cauliflower dish is spectacular- roasted whole it looks great on the table:

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                      I *really* love the idea of the salad with the peppery arugula and fennel, etc. Using Ttrockwood's cauliflower with goat cheese idea, I might lean endive stuffed with a goat cheese mix.

                      Nice ideas, T...to my mind/palate, they'd play really well w. the oyster stew.

                      1. re: pinehurst

                        Pinehurst, after you suggested it, I couldn't get fennel out of my mind, even though I rarely cook with it. Ended up making just that, an arugula and fennel salad and it was DIVINE with the creamy oyster stew! I'm picking up more fennel this evening and making it again. Thanks for the suggestion!

                      2. re: Ttrockwood

                        How about a small individual salad served first with butter crunch lettuce topped with the very best /smallest sardines you can find with a drizzle of fresh lemon squeezed over and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds? Some fresh thin sliced toasted baguette drizzled with OO and a little rub of fresh garlic glove in the middle of the table.

                      3. I would go with a cooked green vegetable dish. Maybe crispy kale, roasted Brussels sprouts, sauteed green beans, or asparagus wrapped in prosciutto (I know it's not in season, but there's so much of it in the grocery stores during the holidays). Maybe add some nuts to the sauteed preparations for added texture. These spinach bundles from Martha Stewart might be nice, too, and they're kind of festive: http://www.marthastewart.com/312463/s... . If you don't want do veggies, maybe a wild rice pilaf.

                        1. We have it every Christmas Eve, with ham sandwiches! If you can order a Pratt Ham, you won't regret it! Serve some condiments like home-made sweet pickles, and some black walnut cookies, for dessert.

                          1. Be sure to cook your oysters, in plenty of butter, until they curl, and use small ones. I like to use half and half and whole milk, plenty of black pepper, and a little salt. You can use a small amount of corn starch in it, to give it more "body". Mix with water and add to hot stew. Don't forget the oyster crackers!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: EllaElladel

                              Your method will result in over cooked Oysters if I am reading it correctly.
                              If the Oysters are starting to curl before you add your Milk they are already done and continue to cook as the milk heats will over cook them.
                              Then if you add corn starch you need to bring it back to a simmer for the starch to cook, overcooking the Oysters even more.

                              1. Wow, you guys are all AMAZING! I forgot to check back after posting and sat down this evening to discover such a wonderful list of suggestions! Thank you, everyone, who took the time to respond. I hadn't thought about ham, and that will definitely be on the menu.

                                1. I agree that the stew is definitely the star of the show and think a hefty plate of kale with a little butter would be enough accompaniment--Add a nice bread and don't forget the zesta crackers!