Southern Style Cornbread Stuffing With Oysters

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It sounds like an odd combination, oysters and Thanksgiving but, Cornbread Oyster Stuffing is a southern classic and one that I look forward to every year. Most southern families make two batches, one with oysters and one without. If you want to make a “without batch” it’s simple, just don’t add the oysters.

  • 2 1/2 pounds cooked cornbread
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more as needed
  • 2 cups medium-dice celery (about 6 medium stalks)
  • 1 cup peeled, medium-dice celery root, also known as celeriac (about 1/2 medium celery root)
  • 3/4 cup small-dice red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon celery seeds, crushed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups stock or chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup chardonnay
  • 12 fresh oysters, shucked and liquid reserved
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 3 medium sized sage leaves

(Special sage advice: sage is a bit chewy so you don’t want to just cut it up and add it to your dish. Try this – fry your sage leaves in olive oil until crispy. pull from oil, place on paper towel and salt both sides. You can do this in larger batches and store for future use. You should be able to easily crumble the sage leaves into your dish now.)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat the oven to 275°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
  2. Using your hands, crumble the cornbread into pieces no larger than 3/4 inch onto a rimmed baking sheet. Spread into an even layer and bake for 15 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the cornbread dry out inside the oven overnight.
  3. The next day, transfer the cornbread to a large bowl and set it aside. Heat the oven to 350°F with the rack in the middle. Coat a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with butter; set aside.
  4. Melt 1 1/2 sticks of the measured butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the celery, celery root, and onion, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the thyme, sage and celery seeds and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to the bowl with the cornbread.
  6. Add white wine to chicken stock/broth and drizzle the stock or broth and the oyster liquid into the bowl and stir until completely incorporated. Fold in the oysters (whole – do not chop), eggs, and parsley.
  7. Transfer the stuffing to the prepared baking dish. Cut the remaining 1/2 stick of butter into small pieces and scatter them over the top of the stuffing. Bake until golden brown on top, about 40 minutes.
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