For Centuries Americans Have Been stuffing Turkeys With Oysters
The tradition of oyster dressing was brought over from British colonists that settled in America. More of a delicacy now, oysters were once plentiful and for centuries were the most commonly eaten shellfish in America. They were cheap and plentiful enough for the working class to afford. In homes, cooks stuffed turkeys and other birds with oysters to stretch the pricier fowl. They also made loaves, sauces, pies, soups and stews with the inexpensive protein.
It’s a lot of work if you’re talking about shucking dozens of fresh oysters to chop and bake with your bread cubes but the payoff is delicious. The bread soaks up the oyster liquor, and you get a richness that’s beyond what sausage or a little chicken broth can offer. Alternatively, if you’re not up to the task of shucking, the following recipe can be made with a pint of store bought pre-shucked oysters. Whichever your choice, oyster stuffing can make a turkey a marvel.
By Dave “Pops” Masch
OYSTER STUFFING (enough for a 12- to 16-lb. bird)
1 pint oysters and liquid
1/2 lb. unsalted butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
8 cups cubed day-old bread
2 beaten eggs
1/2 tsp. ground sage, thyme, marjoram
Salt and pepper
Coarsely chop oysters, save liquid. Melt butter in a skillet, save 1/2 cup. Sauté onion and celery in remaining butter until soft, add oyster liquid, and simmer 5 minutes.
Mix this into bread cubes and cool slightly. Add eggs and herbs, gradually add reserved butter. While tossing with a fork, add oysters, and salt and pepper to taste – and stuff your bird.
The first oyster stuffing I ever had was on Thanksgiving in Truro, Massachusetts, in 1960. It was so good that I have never forgotten it. You, too, can be remembered.
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