Friday, November 13, 2009

Southern Cornbread and Oyster Dressing (Stuffing)

While oyster dressing may not be a traditional holiday dressing across the south, here along the Deep South of the Gulf Coast, where the oysters are salty-sweet, it absolutely is a star.
While oyster dressing may not be a traditional holiday dressing across the south, here along the Deep South of the Gulf Coast, where the oysters are salty-sweet, it absolutely is a star.

Southern Cornbread and Oyster Dressing (Stuffing)

I realize that oyster dressing is not something that is common at the holidays all over the country, and not even in The South really, but it certainly is down here in The Deep South, especially along the coastal waters. For Thanksgiving and Christmas, my Mama almost always made two dressings - well, essentially three, really, since she also stuffed the turkey with her herb stuffing.

I do lament the passing of the stuffed turkey. Quite frankly the stuffing in the bird was always my favorite because it was so juicy and moist from the drippings of the bird and just delicious. Ironically, that is the very reason why they say we are not supposed to eat stuffing from a bird.  Apparently because those juices dripping in from the bird to the stuffing start off raw, and do not actually get to a high enough temperature to properly kill off any bad bacteria, the stuffing can cause illness.

Well, I ate that kind of stuffing all of my life growing up, and I'm still alive and kicking and frankly, cannot remember one single time of getting sick from eating a holiday meal. An overly full stuffed gluttonous and very comforting and welcome feeling maybe, but never did I once get sick from eating stuffing from a turkey.  Still, I guess staying on the safe side is the right thing to do, so I only cook my dressing in a pan now. It's sad. I really need to go back and walk on the wild side.

Anyway, Mama made the herb bread stuffing in the turkey, plus a side pan of the leftover dressing, but she also made a pan of oyster dressing because my Daddy liked it. And so did I. We may have been the only ones in the family who ate it to be honest!

{Warning. Southern Style Hissy Fit commencing...} Mama made her oyster dressing with bread though, like her regular dressing, and did not use cornbread ever. She just did not like it. I know that's hard for some southerners to grasp but it's true. Not everybody wants cornbread dressing - even those who are born and raised, multi-generational southerners.  So please don't ever use that catch phrase "a real southerner wouldn't..." I get so tired of hearing that, because for one, quite frankly it's mighty rude to say that to a born and raised southerner, and for two, nothing will set my hair on fire faster than somebody to ever say that to me, and for three, because far as I know there really isn't a written southern handbook. If there is, y'all better hurry up and send me one because I'm fairly certain I've been breaking rules for most all my life. {tucks away soapbox}

Anyway... the first time away from home making my own cornbread dressing, I knew it was the perfect carrier for oysters, so that is how I do my oyster dressing. It's pretty much my basic homemade cornbread dressing with some variations, including of course, the addition of oysters. I like to rough chop the oysters up a bit and I do that with a pair of kitchen shears, but unless they are unusually large, you can keep them whole if you prefer.

Here's how to make it.

Be sure to check out my 7 Top Tips to Perfect Your Holiday Stuffing.

Looking for more holiday recipes? Click right here.

Recipe: Southern Cornbread and Oyster Dressing (Stuffing)

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 20 min |Cook time: 45 min | Yield: About 8 to 10 side servings

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped green bell pepper
  • 6 cups of cooked, crumbled cornbread
  • 6 cups of dry, toasted bread, crumbled (toasted white bread, leftover biscuits, or rolls)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama), or to taste, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of sage or (Bell's seasoning), or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon of poultry seasoning
  • 4 to 6 cups of turkey or chicken stock
  • 5 eggs, beaten (or 3 raw, 2 boiled and chopped)
  • 1 quart of oysters, liquid reserved

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9 x 13 inch pan with butter or non-stick spray.

Toast the bread in a toaster or in the oven. Remove and set aside to cool. Make a pan of cornbread, remove and set aside uncovered to cool completely. You want the breads to be very dry.

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion, celery and bell pepper. Add the salt, Cajun seasoning, pepper, Bell's seasoning and poultry seasoning. Continue cooking and stirring for 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Crumble the cornbread into a large bowl. Add the bread and toss. Add the sauteed veggies, scraping out all of the butter; stir. Pour in 2 cups of the broth and toss. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Add the beaten eggs; stir. Using a pair of kitchen shears, roughly chop the oysters. Add the oysters, with their juices, to the cornbread mixture. This is where you fix the consistency. If you want a fluffy stuffing, you'll use less stock. If you prefer a wetter stuffing, add additional broth as needed to reach desired consistency, taking care not to get too soupy! Lightly spoon into the casserole dish, but do not pack.

Transfer to the prepared baking dish and bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. For a moister stuffing, baked covered. For a drier stuffing with a crunchy top, bake uncovered.

Cook's Notes: Instead of sage, I prefer to use Bell's seasoning, which is a mixture of sage with other herbs and spices. Click here for a copycat blend. For the cornbread, use a 9 x 9 inch pan of homemade cornbread, the back of the bag recipe, or two boxes of Jiffy cornbread.

How to fix a too dry or too wet stuffing: If you find your stuffing is too dry, add additional warmed broth to it, stir well, and return to the oven, checking periodically. If the stuffing is overly wet and too gummy, cook it uncovered for a bit longer, checking periodically.


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©Deep South Dish
Looking for Traditional Southern Cornbread Dressing without oysters instead? Click right here. Or if you like, we've got Southern Chicken and Cornbread Dressing too! Check that one out too right here.
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Check These Recipes Out Too Y'all!

Traditional Southern Cornbread Dressing
Chicken and Cornbread Dressing
Seafood and Eggplant Dressing

Posted by on November 13, 2009
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