1/2 cup real sweet cream butter
2 cups finely chopped onions
1 cup finely chopped celery
2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley
3/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper
1 Tbsp. finely chopped garlic
1/3 cup thinly sliced green-onion tops
4-6 dozen chopped oysters plus liquor
1 tsp. Frank Davis Poultry Seasoning
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. black pepper
1 whole egg (lightly beaten)
1-1/2 tsp. salt (if needed)
3-4 cups broken coarse stale French bread
In a large black cast iron Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat and sauté the onions, celery, parsley, bell pepper, garlic, and green-onion tops until all of them are tender. The one thing to remember is to keep the butter hot but don’t let it burn. Keep stirring the mixture to cook it uniformly.
Next, gradually stir in the chopped oysters. Notice I said “gradually stir in.” The reason for this is that you do not want to reduce the heat—lowering the heat will cause excessive water to be released from the oysters and you’ll have to add too much bread to the finished dish. Cook the oysters gently for about 4 minutes, stirring all the while.
When the ingredients are well mixed, stir in the poultry seasoning, basil, pepper, thyme, and salt. About the salt—check your oysters to see if they are naturally salty before adding the prescribed amount. You may have to reduce the salt if nature has provided her own. At this point, you should begin tasting the dressing and make whatever adjustments are necessary.
Now cover the pot, lower the heat, and simmer about five minutes to allow time for the flavors to thoroughly blend. This is one of the secrets to making a really good oyster dressing.
After the simmering process is done, remove the pot from the fire and begin stirring in the bread a little at a time. Note that you do not have to add all of it—or you may need a little more of it. It depends on how juicy your oysters are. If you want your dressing moist, stop adding bread when you get to the texture you desire. If you want a drier stuffing, put it all in—even more if your taste and needs dictate.
When—in your estimation—the stuffing is just right, go ahead and rapidly stir in the egg to tie everything together.
Then cover it for a few minutes to let it “set up.” This is where the body comes in—it’s how the final blending brings out full flavor. And you can make adjustments at this point by moistening the dish with the oyster liquor…that’s why you saved it.
The only thing you still have to decide is how you plan to use the dressing. It can be stuffed directly into your slow-roasted turkey after it’s cooked, or it can be baked separately and used as a side-dish stuffing. To do either of these, bake the dressing in a casserole first.
Just spoon it out of the Dutch oven into a buttered casserole dish. And for a little extra “crowning touch,” be sure you mix some of the turkey drippings into the stuffing. Ummm! Then lightly sprinkle the top with a handful of bread crumbs, top with butter, and bake uncovered about 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.