Herbsaint Infused Oyster Stew with Smoked Bacon

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From Donald Link, “Real Cajun”

1 pint shucked oysters
3 ounces thick sliced smoked bacon, cut into ¼ inch cubes
4 tablespoons butter
1 small onion chopped
1 bunch scallions
2 celery stalks cut into ¼ inch cubes
1 small potato diced
1 cup chopped fennel bulb
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 bay leaves
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
1/3 cup flour
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons Herbsaint or other anise
flavored liqueur.

Place half of the oysters in the food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer the puree to a bowl and refrigerate along with remaining whole oysters until needed.
Heat the bacon in a large pot or Dutch oven over low heat until fat is rendered and bacon is just starting to sizzle, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and the onion, scallions, celery, fennel, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, salt, pepper and cayenne.
Cook slowly stirring frequently, until they are tender, about 10 minutes. Add 2 more tablespoons of butter to pot. As soon as butter melts, add flour and stir until ingredients are evenly coated. Add 2 cups reserved oyster liquor, the potato and pureed oysters and bring to simmer gently for 15 minutes. Add 1 cup cream and simmer for 5 more minutes.
To finish the stew, add last cup of cream, remaining tablespoon of butter, Herbsaint and whole oysters. Cook for 5 more minutes and serve.




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