ALL DRESSED UP

Come Thanksgiving, there is culinary conflict that has raged since the early days of the Republic – Whether the most popular side dish should be named “dressing” or “stuffing”?

Historically, it’s a matter of tradition and geography. Classically, if it's cooked inside the turkey, it can be dubbed stuffing. If it's prepared outside the bird, then the proper name is dressing.

However, south of the Mason-Dixon Line chefs call it “dressing”, regardless of its preparation, considering the term "stuffing" as a rather ungracious sounding word for their menus.  

In the northern States New Englanders prefer a more practical approach, referring to this Holiday side dish as “stuffing” no matter its turkey ‘location’.  

Yet no matter the term, both Northerners and Southerners agree that Oyster Stuffing/Dressing is a great American Thanksgiving dish. 

Southern Cornbread Oyster “Dressing”

 Ingredients

  • 12 tbsp. butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, peeled and finely chopped
  • 14 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp. crumbled dried sage
  • 12 tsp. dried tarragon
  • 6 cups crumbled corn bread
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • Pinch cayenne
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 dozen shucked Taylor Oysters

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Melt 6 tbsp. of the butter in a skillet over medium heat, add onions, celery, parsley, sage and tarragon. Sauté the mixture until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes.
  3. Put corn bread in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Bring chicken stock to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat.
  5. Add remaining butter, stirring until butter has melted.
  6. Pour over corn bread.
  7. Mix in sautéed onion-and-celery mixture, eggs, and cayenne.
  8. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  9. Gently mix oysters into the corn bread mixture, taking care to keep the oysters whole.
  10. Transfer to a buttered 8" × 8" baking dish.
  11. Bake for 40 minutes.
  12. Serve with roast turkey.

Northern Oyster Bread “Stuffing”

 Ingredients

  • 11 cups 12-inch-cubed white French bread (about 14 oz.)
  • 6 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 14-inch strips
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 6 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 4 ribs celery, thinly sliced
  • 40 medium Taylor Oysters, shucked (about 1 lb.), with 1 cup of the liquor reserved
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 14 cup Madeira or Port Wine
  • 13 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tbsp. chopped thyme leaves
  • 2 tbsp. chopped sage leaves
  • 12 tsp. Tabasco
  • 14 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
  • 18 tsp. ground cloves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 250˚.
  2. Arrange bread cubes on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake, stirring occasionally, until dried but not browned, about 15 minutes.
  3. Let cool.
  4. Put bacon into a 12-inch skillet; cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until crisp and its fat has rendered, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add 4 tbsp. of the butter and heat.
  6. Add shallots and celery, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
  7. Add oyster liquor, stock, Madeira or Port Wine, parsley, thyme, sage, Tabasco, nutmeg, cloves, and salt and pepper.
  8. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  9. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl and stir in the bread cubes and oysters.
  10. Set aside to allow the flavors to come together for 10 minutes.
  11. Raise the oven temperature to 400˚.
  12. Transfer mixture to a buttered 2-qt. oval baking dish and cover with foil.
  13. Bake for 30 minutes, remove foil, drizzle with remaining butter, and continue baking until golden brown and crusty, about 15 minutes more.
  14. Serve as soon as ready.