Oyster stuffing is a favorite in New England and along the east coast, where shellfish is readily available. The first English settlers were already accustomed to oyster stuffing, often baked under the skin of the bird, as well as inside the cavity.FOR MORE, SEE STUFFING OR DRESSING?
• 12 cups cubed Italian or French bread
• 6 strips bacon, diced
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
• 2 medium onions, diced
• 4 stalks celery, diced
• 1 tablespoon crumbled dried thyme, or 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
• 2 teaspoons dried sage, or 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
• 4 cloves garlic, finely minced, or 1 tablespoon minced prepared garlic
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 2-1/2 cups chicken stock
• 18 oysters, shucked, drained and finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1. Preheat oven to 300 F.
2. Spread bread cubes evenly on large cookie sheet. Bake on middle rack of oven until dry and golden, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Transfer to large mixing bowl. Set aside.
3. Cook bacon in heavy skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels; reserve fat in pan.
4. Add 1 tablespoon butter to pan and let melt. Add onions, celery, thyme, sage, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper, and cook over low heat until vegetables are translucent and soft, about 10 minutes.
5. Add cooked vegetable mixture and bacon to dried bread cubes, and toss to combine. Set aside.
6. Heat chicken stock and remaining butter in saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted, stirring often. Pour slowly over bread mixture, and mix well. Stir in oysters.
7. Stuff mixture into cavity of turkey, or spoon into buttered 3 1/2-quart shallow baking dish. Increase oven temperature to 350 F, and bake, covered, on middle rack for 30 minutes. Uncover, and continue baking until golden brown, about 30 additional minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.
NOTE: To prepare ahead of time, combine all ingredients except oysters, and store, covered, in refrigerator up to two days before baking. Bring mixture to room temperature, add oysters, and bake according to directions.