There will always be dishes during the holidays that have been passed down through the generations and are forever a part of your family’s traditional fare. Then there are those recipes you’ve always wanted try and possibly include in your menu. For me that recipe has been oyster dressing. I wish I could tell you all that with growing up on the coast this lovely cornbread dressing with a touch of the sea was a must during our Thanksgiving dinner but it was not.
By the time we had moved to the coast my parents had their holiday menu wrapped up and pretty much set in stone. It is also a menu that has yet to be handed over to me. The truth of the matter is that they’re down right scared of what they will find on my table if they do pass the torch. I have a history of crazy concoctions. I can’t help it if they never taught me about needing “cream of whatever” to make a casserole work when I was a teenager. At least I learned from my mistakes…eventually. This year it occurred to me that I’m actually in my mid-thirties and if I would like to try something new on the table than by all means I can.
Whether I am at my mom’s this year or my dad’s I will be showing up with this local coastal favorite. To be on the safe side though we will just keep this our little secret, no need to tell them right. If there happens to be a mysterious second dressing on the table this Thanksgiving I didn’t do it… the dog did.
Gather all of your ingredients including a cake of corn bread.
Drain off the oyster juice and set aside. Chop these little beauties into tiny pieces. Okay, they aren’t so purty but they are yummy.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat and cook the celery, onions and garlic until tender. In a separate skillet fry up the bacon.
Once the celery and onions are tender add in the bacon and mix together. Salt and pepper to taste.
Gotta love a batch of meat candy added to the mix.
In a large bowl crumble the cornbread. Toss in the bread crumbs and herbs.
Pour the oyster juice into your breadcrumbs and toss to coat. Add the oysters along with the sauteed celery, onion and bacon mix, combining thoroughly. If the mixture is too dry and a little chicken stock. The dressing should not be mushy but should stick together.
Cover with foil and bake for approx. 30 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 10-15 minutes or until browned.
Then pull up a beach chair, stick your toes in the sand and enjoy the bounty of the sea at Thanksgiving. Or at least you can pretend that you are. The monkeys tried this dressing and guess what? They had no clue that they were eating “yucky slimy oysters”. They did however say this dressing was full of different flavors. I’ll never tell what they were.
I know that you may be squeamish about oysters but if you do give this recipe a try I can promise that you’ll never know you’re eating them, especially if you cut them up into teeny tiny pieces like I did. This is actually a complex rich dressing that will compliment your Thanksgiving turkey beautifully and surprise your guests with it’s bounty of flavors. I know that I was pleasantly surprised and wish like crazy that I hadn’t waited so long to give it a try. This dressing will even brighten up any roasted chicken dinner that you have planned in the near future.
Give it a try and let me now what you think. Feel free to play around with the recipe and make it your own.
Oyster Dressing–Serves 6-8
Preptime-Approx. 15 minutes
Cooktime-Approx. 45 minutes
1 pint oysters with juice
1/2 cup butter
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 cup diced bacon
1/2 cornbread recipe, crumbled
3 cups bread crumbs (thick country white bread was used)
2 tsp fresh thyme
2tbsp fresh parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cup chicken stock (on reserve)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees-Butter a 13×9 casserole dish
Melt the butter in a large skillet or saute pan over medium high heat. Cook the celery, onion and garlic until tender. In a separate skillet fry the diced bacon until crisp. Add to the celery and onion once they are tender, salt and pepper to taste.
In a large bowl crumble the cornbread and then add in the bread crumbs and herbs. Pour the oyster juice over the breadcrumbs and toss to coat. Add the oysters along with the sauteed celery, onion and bacon mix to the breadcrumbs, combining thoroughly.
If the mixture is too dry and a little chicken stock. The dressing should not be mushy but should stick together.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for approx. 30 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 10-15 or until browned.
Then serve and enjoy!
*Adapted from an Outer Banks Oyster Dressing recipe*