Sunday, December 4, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner: Smoked Oyster and Bacon Stuffing

I chose to make a smoked oyster stuffing because I love smoked oysters.  Oysters have a distinct oyster taste that is delicious when fresh and simple.  When smoked, they take on a whole different smokey, meaty property while still maintaining a subtle lilt of oysterness.  In searching for a recipe to incorporate smoked oysters, I found Martha Stewart's Smoked Oyster and Bacon Stuffing.  I adapted the recipe to be friendlier towards ingredients I could get in Korea (i.e. switching out brown rice vinegar for sherry vinegar).  I also used the rice cooker to finish the stuffing instead of the oven because there were so many other dishes that needed to be cooked in my small convection oven.

This smoked oyster and bacon stuffing was the star of the dinner.  (Some may argue it was the turducken roll.)  The smoked oyster, with the support of some savory bacon, really revived plain ole' bread stuffing.  The result was an aromatic stuffing accented with pockets of smokey, oyster flavor and crumbles of salty bacon.

Smoked Oyster and Bacon Stuffing

Makes 8 servings
1 loaf crusty white bread
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely diced 
2 large celery stalks, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup packed drained smoked oysters (from three 3-ounce cans)
8 slices low-sodium bacon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Take the loaf of bread and cut it into 3/4 inch pieces.  I used "56-hour" bread from Paris Baguette because it has great flavor and texture.  Apparently, it's called that because the process of developing the dough and making the bread takes 56 hours total.   

I have two loaves because I doubled the recipe.

Lay the bread cubes evenly on a baking sheet and toast them until they're dried out and golden brown (about 15 minutes).

Crouton mountain
Cook the bacon over medium heat until very crispy, nearly burnt.  Let it cool and crumble the bacon.  Keep in a bowl with the drained whole smoked oysters.

In a separate pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add in the onions, garlic, and celery.  Cook until the onion and celery have softened, 7-10 minutes.  Add in the thyme and vinegar.  Cook for one more minute.  Season with salt and pepper.

Add the parsley and eggs to the mixture once it's cooled a bit so the eggs don't cook when you add them.  Toss the bread around in the mixture to coat.

Then add in the bacon and smoked oysters.  Toss the stuffing around a bit to make sure the bacon and smoked oysters are well-distributed throughout, but try not to break the oysters.  They're pretty soft and delicate.

Then spoon the stuffing into the rice cooker or baking dish that it will cook in.  Pour the chicken stock in over it.  Bake in the oven at 400 degrees F for 25-30 minutes.  If you're cooking with the rice cooker, stir the stuffing once half way through so that the stuffing cooks evenly.  Let the stuffing rest 5 minutes before serving.  If you aren't serving right away, keep it in the rice cooker to keep warm.

The stuffing is hiding under the turducken rolls.

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