This has been my favorite family Thanksgiving dish for years—ever since my dad decided to go out on a limb with canned smoked oysters from the back of the pantry. Even though it’s not the way my dad does it, you might try shucking live oysters if a grocery store near you carries them or can special order them. (Expect to pay about a dollar per oyster.) It’s fun. You can eat a few while you’re at it. The first Thanksgiving likely included freshly shucked oysters. Need any other excuses to give it a go?
Dressing-making time is the perfect time to use up stale bread studded with herbs, cheese, olives, or other savory add-ins. Baked stuffing freezes well if wrapped tightly. Consider making this traditional dish ahead of time to reduce Thanksgiving Day prep.
Oyster, Sausage and Apple Dressing Recipe
• 5 ounces (about 4 thick-cut strips) bacon
• 2 small or 1 large onion
• 5 ribs celery
• 2 tart apples, such as Braeburn, Granny Smith, or Northern Spy, seeded and diced, with peels on
• 1 cup corn kernels (from about 2 medium ears)
• 1 teaspoon salt
• Several twists freshly ground pepper
• 15 leaves fresh or dried sage
• 3 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tablespoon dried)
• 2 sprigs fresh oregano (or 2 teaspoons dried)
• Small handful fresh basil (or 1 basil ice cube*)
Small handful fresh parsley (or 1 parsley ice cube*)
• 8 ounces sweet Italian sausage
• 1 dozen live oysters (or one 4-ounce can)
• Hot sauce, to taste
• 2 large eggs, beaten
• 2 cups seafood, vegetable, or mushroom stock
• Approximately 4 cups Seasoned or Unseasoned Croutons
• 4 c. cornbread, crumbled into chunks
Kitchen Tip: Herb ice cubes are great for use in fall and winter. When herbs are in season, blend chopped herbs with olive oil or water and freeze in ice cube trays. When frozen, pop them out into a storage container.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Fry bacon over medium-high heat in your widest, deepest skillet. When it’s cooked through, transfer to towel to drain. Dice bacon into whatever size pieces you’d like to bite into and set aside.
3. Sauté onion, celery, apple and corn in bacon grease until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in salt, pepper and herbs.
4. In the same pan, cook sausage until heated through. Remove from heat and chop into bite-sized pieces.
5. If you don’t know how to shuck oysters, see instructions below. After shucking, chop oysters into two to three pieces each. Toss them along with the nutritious and delicious liquid in the shells known as oyster liquor into your biggest mixing bowl.
6. Add croutons, cornbread, bacon, sautéed vegetables, sausage, hot sauce and beaten eggs. (Much of the cornbread will crumble even further.) Add stock, a little bit at a time, tossing to coat evenly, until the mixture is uniformly moist. You may not use all of the stock.
7. Press mixture into a greased 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Bake on your oven’s middle rack for 35 minutes or until the top begins to brown yet the interior is still somewhat moist. For a crunchy topping, broil the stuffing for up to 5 minutes with the oven door slightly ajar. Serve warm.