This may not be the prettiest photo I have ever taken since it was shot with my camera phone on the fly last Thanksgiving, right before we were all about to make our plates and devour. I just knew that I needed to share this delicious recipe that I picked up while living in New Orleans back in the 80’s. The dressing is moist, succulent and scattered with briny, juicy Gulf Coast oysters. I also make a cornbread dressing with country sausage that is pretty amazing just to satisfy any and all requests. Whether you call it stuffing (I don’t stuff the bird) or dressing, this will be a solid side dish to your turkey that is certain to be a crowd pleaser.
2 large French baguettes, cubed
3 ounces thick bacon, diced (Benton’s Bacon adds a great smoky flavor)
1 stick unsalted butter
2 celery stalks, diced
½ green bell pepper, diced
½ small onion, finely diced
3-4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons smoked Hungarian paprika
½-teaspoon garlic powder
½-teaspoon cayenne pepper
½-teasppon fresh ground black pepper
36-shucked oysters, cut in half plus 1-cup oyster liquor
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 large eggs
1-teaspoon Crystal hot sauce, or your favorite
1-teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 10-by-14-inch shallow baking dish or large cast iron skillet. In a separate large skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and let melt, then add the celery, green pepper, onion and minced garlic and cook until softened, about 5-10 minutes. Add the paprika, garlic powder and cayenne and cook for 3 minutes while stirring.
In a large bowl, add the baguette. Spoon the bacon mixture on top. Add the oysters and the oyster liquor along with the fresh parsley.
Beat the eggs in a small bowl with the hot sauce and salt. Pour the eggs into the larger bowl and mix everything together. Scoop the dressing into the baking dish or skillet and bake on the top rack for 45 minutes, until heated through. The top should appear golden and crispy. Serve immediately.