Oyster Dressing

Southern dressings tend to have more wheat bread the closer you get to the Gulf Coast, and oyster dressing is no exception; most Louisiana recipes call for a stale French loaf of some kind. However, inland recipes as well as older recipes most often call for cornbread. My recipe is typical of the Middle South, involving both. I implore you not to use green pepper in this recipe. I belong to a school of Southern cooking that subscribes to the gentle bonhomie of Justin Wilson, who maintained that bell peppers are “taste-killers.”

Sauté two cups diced white onion and two cups diced celery in a stick butter on low heat until tender. Cook a pint of oysters with liquid in a half stick butter until oysters are just done, the edges beginning to curl. Remove from heat, add a tablespoon dried thyme, a tablespoon dried basil, a tablespoon ground sage. Combine three cups crumbled dry cornbread and three cups crumbled dry bread crumbs in a large bowl. Add vegetables and butter along with three eggs well-beaten. Mix well, adding enough congealed chicken broth (if needed) to make a thick slurry. It should be quite moist. Add oysters, spoon into a large, lightly-buttered baking pan, bake at 350 until center is firm, about forty-five minutes to an hour.