I'm not sure if many families do this, but both my family and Dave's have the tradition of having seafood on Christmas Eve. My family usually rotates three or four favorite dishes. Dave's sticks to oyster stew. His grandmother, Josephine, grew up in Baltimore, and makes a really delicious version. She insists on fresh oysters, and, living in Nebraska now, that often requires special delivery. I think it's worth it to use canned and still enjoy the meal, but she would never do that. I admire her resolve!
While I'm divulging Scott family secrets, I'm going to post Jo's crab cake recipe, too. She grew up with blue crabs and has perfected the art of getting just enough egg and cracker to get the cake to stick together, but not taste of anything but pure crab. My sister-in-law, Kathy, has been studying with Jo, and I have witnessed her experimenting with different seasonings, with delicious results, though below she gives Jo's traditional recipe. I am lucky to be on the eating end of both women's amazing Christmas Eve meals!
And now I'll turn it over to Kathy.
Like all true family recipes these have been kind of shown to the next generation instead of transcribed. Please excuse any and all lapses or mistakes in amounts and/or cooking times and temps. After you cook them a time or two you will just feel them out and figure out what the best ratios are for your family tradition.
Jo's Christmas Oyster Stew
Fresh Eastern Oysters (with juice)
4 TBS unsalted butter
1/2 pint whole milk
1/2 pint half and half
salt and pepper (white pepper if you want to be fancy)
Heat medium sauce pan on medium heat.
Add butter let melt and bubble (not boiling but a little frothy on top)
Add Oysters with juice.
Cook until they are opaque. About 5 to 10 minutes depending on size of oysters.
Add milk and half & half.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Let cook for about 5 to 8 minutes.
Make sure it does not boil but just simmers.
Adjust the richness by adding milk if too rich and half&half if not rich enough.
Adjust salt and pepper.
Serve Immediately. With oyster crackers, hot sauce, and Old Bay.
Maryland Crab Cakes
These crab cakes are not the dense pucks you get in resturants. They are mostly crab which in my opinion is the point. Also I don't serve them with any kind of sauce, not sure they need them.
1 lb lump crab meat (we always use blue crab)
10 Saltine crackers, crushed
1 egg, beaten slightly
1/2 stick unsalted butter
Old Bay seasoning
Pick through the crab meat to make sure there are no shells.
Mix egg, crab, and crackers together.
Add as much Old Bay as you want. I add about 1 TBS.
Loosely, mold 1/4c of the crab mixture into a ball.
Place on a paper towel lined baking sheet and gently press down to make a patty.
Heat 2TBS butter and 1TBS olive oil in a pan over medium to medium high heat.
Add cakes to pan. Aprox 4 to 5 at a time. Don't over crowd.
Let cook on one side for about 4 to 5 minutes, until browned.
Flip and cook another 4 to 5 minutes.
Take out of pan and place on paper towel lined baking sheet.
Serve hot/warm with more Old Bay.