Baked Oyster Dressing

by Cate on November 19, 2007

OMG, I had the best homemade stuffing e-v-e-r today. But first, I’ll backtrack. I was catching up on some of my backlogged Tivo shows this morning, and caught an episode of Martha Stewart where Food Network chef Emeril Lagasse was the guest. He prepared a complete New Orleans-style Thanksgiving dinner, and by the end of the episode, I decided we’d have a pre-Thanksgiving feast for dinner tonight. After all, why should all our favorite dishes from Thanksgiving be relegated to just one day a year? Somebody has to put a stop to this.

After all these years of making countless stuffing recipes, I have yet to find the one that makes me stop searching … until today. And given I’ve never had a bad Emeril recipe, it should only stand to reason that it was his recipe that stopped the search. The recipe comes from Emeril’s Real and Rustic cookbook, which made its debut over 11 years ago.

While making the recipe, Emeril mentioned that a lot of people in the food industry believe that you shouldn’t mix fish with cheese (as he does in this recipe, with the oysters and Parmesan), and both and he Martha scoffed at the idea. They also talked about the recent trend of some restaurants refusing to include salt or pepper on the diners’ table, with the assertion that their food has been expertly prepared and didn’t need dining room guests ruining it by adding additional salt and pepper. Both Martha and Emeril didn’t agree with that latest trend either, which I was glad to hear. I understand the chefs’ point, but still … know matter how expertly they may prepare their offerings, everyone’s tastebuds are different.

The stuffing was incredibly simple to make, and with just the right amount of seasoning, it produced incredibly moist stuffing that will hit our table for many Thanksgivings to come. Because I don’t think I can get the oysters past everyone in the family, I’ll exclude them when I make it on Thursday, but I promise it will still be just as good. If you’re looking for a traditional stuffing recipe for your Thanksgiving menu this week, do give this one a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish?

Baked Oyster Dressing
Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse’s Real and Rustic

Serves 4 to 6

2 teaspoons unsalted butter
2 cups shucked oysters, including their liquor
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped celery
1-1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon Emeril’s Original Essence (see recipe below)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon very finely chopped garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped scallions
4 cups 1-inch cubes French bread
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9-by-11-inch baking dish and set aside. Drain oysters, reserving liquor; set aside. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, bell peppers, celery, salt, Emeril’s Essence, and cayenne; cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add bay leaves, garlic, and parsley; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add 1 cup water and cook, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. In a large bowl, combine vegetable mixture with oysters and their liquor, scallions, bread, and cheese. Stir until well combined. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and bake until golden brown and bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove bay leaves before serving.

Emeril’s Essence

Makes 2/3 cup

2-1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons coarse salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl; stir until well combined. Transfer mixture to an airtight container and store in a cool, dark place.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Kalyn November 19, 2007 at 4:04 am

Stuffing is without a doubt my favorite Thanksgiving dish!

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Julie November 19, 2007 at 11:31 am

Grandmother always made oyster dressing for Thanksgiving (only hers was with cornbread) and now I make it myself. It’s just not Thanksgiving for me unless I have some oyster dressing.

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Anonymous November 19, 2007 at 8:18 pm

Just wondering why you drain the oysters from the liquor when you add all anyway?

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Cate November 19, 2007 at 8:45 pm

Kalyn – I think I’d have to agree.

Julia – first time I’ve ever had stuffing with oysters. When making it, he mentioned a good variation would be with cornbread as well, so your grandmother was onto something. ;)

Anonymous – funny you mention that – I was wondering the same thing as I found myself doing it for the recipe. Definitely can’t see a need for doing it again next time.

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