Around this time of the year, fierce debates break out over the “right” way to stuff a turkey. Classic sausage and sage stuffing? Vegetarian-friendly wild mushroom stuffing? How about using oysters to liven up a potentially carb-heavy dish? We love the briny notes and depth that oysters add to stuffing, and the dish is a great introduction for oyster newbies who may shy away from raw oysters. You can use pre-shucked oyster meats to streamline an already busy holiday cooking schedule. Of course, if you do have the time and inclination to shuck oysters, your family and guests will be that much more impressed with your culinary skills.
Herbed Oyster Stuffing
Adapted from Gourmet
Yield: 8 to 10 servings, or about 10 cups
2 loaves Italian or French bread (1 lb total), cut into 3/4-inch cubes (12 cups)
1/2 lb sliced bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil (if needed)
2 medium onions, finely chopped (2 cups)
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 tablespoon dried thyme, crumbled
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage or 2 teaspoons dried sage, crumbled
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup shucked oyster meats (about 18 oysters)
2 1/4 cups turkey giblet stock or low-sodium chicken broth
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Spread bread cubes in 2 shallow baking pans and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of pans halfway through baking, until golden, 25 to 30 minutes total. Cool bread in pans on racks, then transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, cook bacon in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain, reserving fat in skillet.
If bacon renders less than 1/4 cup fat, add enough oil to skillet to total 1/4 cup fat. Cook onions, celery, thyme, sage, garlic, salt, and pepper in fat in skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to bowl with bread cubes, then stir in bacon, parsley, butter, and oysters. Drizzle with stock, then season with salt and pepper and toss well.
Transfer stuffing to a buttered 3- to 3 1/2-quart shallow baking dish. Bake, covered, in middle of oven 30 minutes, then uncover and bake until browned, about 30 minutes more.
Cooks’ note: Stuffing can be assembled (without oysters and not baked) 2 days ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature and stir in oysters before baking.