I’ll have a side of turkey with my Oyster Stuffing

If I had to create a guest list for Thanksgiving dinner, the turkey would not be invited.  My attendance list would consist completely of sides (with a few dessert and alcohol invitees too!) Every year I am happy to mingle with candied yams, brussels sprouts, broccoli casserole, pumpkin pie and coconut cake.  The turkey is only invited to my plate annually because of it’s protein value.  Only Reason!

Stuffing is a plated guest every year as well, and sometimes it’s the life of the party and other times it is a Debbie Downer.  The Debbie Downers are usually of the boxed varietal.  My Bubbie (yiddish for Grandmother) used to make a stuffing with Rice Krispies when I was growing up.  My mom and I have tried to duplicate it multiple times and everytime the flavors are full of nostalgia, but the texture doesn’t always come out right.  And to be honest, with my new found food snobbery, I was disappointed that the recipe doesn’t call for more fresh ingredients.  I guess that is a post for another time.

When I found a recipe for Oyster Stuffing on Food & Wine’s web site, I thought I have to try this because 1) Dave and I love oysters and 2) I am still on the hunt for a good stuffing recipe.

*Side Note:  The recipe author is New Orlean’s own John Besh.  We’ll be in NOLA this weekend and we’ll be dining at one of his restaurants!

We halved the recipe, since we weren’t planning on feeding 6 to 8 people on a Sunday night.  Maybe 3 if you include my golden retriever, Beresford (aka Bere, pronounced Bear), although he rarely gets people food, except if he snatches it!  In addition, the recipe called for a slab of bacon which apparently is just that, a slab; it hasn’t been cut into strips yet.  But that wasn’t an option at Whole Foods, so we used the traditional strips.  The bacon and vegetables were cooked in a cast iron skillet and the kitchen was filled with an alluring aroma. When all the ingredients were combined and put in the oven, this was produced:

You’ll see that there are dark pieces scattered throughout the stuffing.  This is the bacon and green pepper, although they weren’t burnt when the dish went into the oven.

Dave and I think this is because we cooked those ingredients the same amount of time as called for in the original recipe, which you recall is double of what we actually made.  However, this did not affect the taste of the stuffing at all.  The flavor combo had our taste buds singing!

If you love oysters and stuffing separately, then you’ll love them together!  Give it a whirl, let me know how it turns out!

Oyster Dressing
(Adapted from foodandwine.com, contributed by John Besh)

2 ounces slab bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 stick unsalted butter
1 celery rib, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 small onion, finely diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 large baguettes (about 1 pound), cut into 1/2-inch dice (12 cups)
4 dozen shucked oysters plus 1 cup oyster liquor, oysters halved (2 cups)
2 scallions, minced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 10-by-14-inch shallow baking dish. In a large skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and let melt, then add the celery, green pepper, onion and minced garlic and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the paprika, garlic powder and cayenne and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Put the diced baguettes in a large bowl. Spoon the bacon mixture on top. Add the oysters and their liquor along with the scallions and parsley.

3. In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the hot sauce and salt. Pour the eggs into the bowl and mix everything together. Scrape the dressing into the prepared baking dish and bake in the upper third of the oven for about 45 minutes, until heated through and crisp on top. Serve hot.

Make Ahead: The baked oyster dressing can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat before serving.

One thought on “I’ll have a side of turkey with my Oyster Stuffing

  1. I heartily agree that the sides are much more interesting than the turkey!! Hope you both have a great dinner tonight, tho I know you will. This will be our first attempt to create Thanksgiving on a boat, although I guess we’re cheating because Jeanne’s doing half the preparation and cooking on Fraulein as well. Great pictures, and great recipes.

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