Oyster stuffing makes a wonderfully flavorful side dish. Oyster stuffing, or in this case, dressing (I don’t cook this in a turkey), has had a long and storied existence here on Long Island. From per-colonial times right through the near recent past it had enjoyed a regional popularity. However, with declined in the shellfish population of the late 1900’s, and declination of domestic culinary skills (personal observation), store-bought off the shelf stuffing surpassed to historic side-dish. But, with sustainable farming of oysters, especially our local blue point variety, its well time to rediscover this culinary accompaniment.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 40 medium oysters, such as bluepoints, shucked (about 1 lb.), with 1 cup of the liquor reserved
- 11 cups 1⁄2″ cubed white French bread (about 14 oz.)
- 6 slices thick cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1⁄4″ strips
- 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, plus more for
- greasing the pan
- 6 shallots, thinly sliced
- 4 ribs celery, thinly sliced
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1⁄4 cup Duck Walk red wine
- 1⁄3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 2 tbsp. chopped thyme leaves
- 2 tbsp. chopped sage leaves
- 1 tbsp. oregano
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
First we need to dry out the bread; heat the oven to 250˚. Arrange bread cubes on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake, stirring occasionally, until dried but not browned, about 10 minutes.
Now, lets build the stuffing; put the bacon into a 12″ skillet; cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until crisp and its fat has rendered, about 10 minutes. Add 4 tbsp. of the butter and heat. Add shallots and celery, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add oyster liquor, stock, wine, parsley, thyme, sage, oregano, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl and stir in the bread cubes and oysters. Set aside to allow the flavors to come together for 10 minutes.
Now bake the final product; raise the oven temperature to 400˚. Put the mixture into a lightly buttered 2-qt. oval baking dish and cover with foil. I use the oval to avoid the ‘hot spots’ that build up in the corners of rectangular dishes. Bake for 30 minutes, remove foil, drizzle with remaining butter, and continue baking until golden brown and crusty, about 20 minutes more. Serve immediately, with the rest of the Duck Walk wine…
and remember to enjoy sustainable oysters often –Oyster Sustainability – Monterey Aquarium