To make a simple oyster stew, melt 1/4 cup butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Stir in 1 pint of undrained shucked oysters. Cook the oysters until the edges begin curling. In a separate saucepan, heat 2 cups milk and 1/2 cup half-and-half over medium-low heat.
Once the milk and cream are hot, stir in salt, pepper and the oyster mixture. Continue heating the stew until it's hot throughout.
For a similar, but slightly richer version, drain 1 pint of shucked oysters, and reserve the liquid. Add the liquid to a saucepan with 2 cups milk. Warm the mixture over medium heat until it begins steaming. Add the oysters, and season the pot with salt and pepper to taste. Cook the oysters for approximately five minutes, until the edges begin curling. Take the pot off the heat, and transfer the oysters to a plate. In a large saucepan, melt 1/4 cup butter over medium heat. Add 1 minced shallot and 1 clove minced garlic.
Cook the mixture for four minutes before sprinkling 2 tablespoons flour into the pot. Whisk the flour for approximately two minutes. Slowly stir in 1 cup half-and-half, 2 tablespoons sherry, 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce and 1/8 teaspoon celery salt. Add the oyster mixture to the pot, turn the heat to medium-low, and cook the oyster stew until it's hot. Top each bowl with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a dash of hot sauce.