Don’t be fooled – oysters don’t just pair well with white wine or bubbles. The salinity of the oysters, paired with the nuts and herbs in this recipe, make this exciting take on a holiday classic worthy of its JUSTIFICATION pairing.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 5 minutes
- 1 ½ lbs. butter
- 1 lb. ground sweet Italian sausage
- 1 large yellow onion (diced)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 3 stalks celery (small, diced)
- 2 carrots (small, diced)
- 1 ½ cups butternut squash (small, diced)
- 1 lb. assorted fresh mushrooms (button, cremini, chanterelle, beech, oyster, black trumpet, etc.)
- 2–3 cups turkey stock or chicken stock
- 1 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
- 1 cup chestnuts (diced) or pine nuts (toasted)
- 15 oz. (8 cups) day-old bread* (medium, diced)
- 3 tablespoons fresh thyme (chopped)
- 3 tablespoons fresh sage (minced)
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley (minced)
- 3 tablespoons fresh chives (minced)
- 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary (minced)
- 1 dozen fresh oysters (removed from shells)
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
*Needs to be extra dry for absorbency.
Note: For vegetarian options, omit the sausage and oysters and use vegetable stock/broth for the turkey stock.
Suggested Wine Pairing
Chef’s Note: Think of making this stuffing like making a panzanella salad (a salad of croutons, fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil). First prepare all the components separately, then toss them gently with just enough moisture (liquid) to bind them together, as you do not want the stuffing to be soggy!
- In a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of butter, cook the ground sausage. When the sausage is nearly done, remove it and set it aside.
- In the same pan over low heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Sweat the onion, 2 cloves of garlic, celery, and carrots together until all is tender, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- In the same pan, melt another 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Sauté the butternut squash until it’s almost cooked through, so that it’s tender but still has a bite. Do not brown. Season with salt.
- In the same pan, melt another 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat and sauté the mushrooms and remaining garlic until the mushrooms are completely cooked. Season with salt and pepper.
- Warm the turkey stock with 3 tablespoons of butter so that it is hot and the butter is melted. Season generously with salt and pepper.
- In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients (sausage, vegetables, dried cranberries, nuts, bread, herbs, and oysters—everything except the turkey stock mixture) and gently toss. Gradually add in the turkey stock mixture as you toss the stuffing. Be sure to add just enough liquid to moisten or dress the bread (you do not want soggy bread; the bread should still be able to hold its shape). Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Grease a large baking dish with butter. Fill the dish with the stuffing mixture.
- Bake the stuffing in the oven at 350ºF–400ºF, just until warmed through.
- Optional: *Serve with oyster shells for decoration.
Note: The reason why the oven temperature has a range is that on Thanksgiving Day, you never know what the oven temperature will be, as so many different things will be baking. Stuffing is not particular, as all the ingredients are already cooked, so just throw it in the oven until it’s warm. If you like a crispy top, turn the temperature up or set it to broil for the last 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can stuff your turkey with the stuffing and cook it that way.
*Please thoroughly clean oyster shells to prevent foodborne illness, if used for decorative purposes.