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Oyster and Cornbread

Category
Appetizers
Cuisine
American/New American
Source
From executive chef Todd Rogers, The Cloister, Sea Island, Georgia
Number of Servings
Makes 6 servings.
Ingredients
For the basic cornbread:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
11/4 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

For the cornbread dressing:
1/2 cornbread recipe (above)
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery (or reduce to 1/2 cup and add 1/2 cup chopped pepper) 1 cup diced carrots (or chopped apples)
2 tablespoons raisins or dried currants or other dried fruit (or 1 tablespoon dried fruit and 1 tablespoon nuts)
1 tablespoon chopped chestnuts (optional)
1/2 teaspoon each salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 eggs
1 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons bacon or sausage drippings (or unsalted butter, melted)
1/2-1 cup crumbled cooked sausage (optional)

For the oyster dressing:
1/2 cornbread recipe (above)
8 cups (about 1/2 pound) stale white bread cubes 1/2 cup unsalted butter
11/2 cups diced Vidalia or other sweet onions
1 cup diced celery
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 pint raw oysters, shucked and drained
1 1/2 cups hot chicken stock
Directions
Preheat oven to 425°F. In a mixing bowl, sift together dry ingredients. In another bowl, beat 3 eggs lightly and beat in milk and melted butter. Pour this liquid mixture over dry ingredients, stirring just to moisten evenly. Spread batter into a shallow 9-inch by 13-inch casserole (or 2 smaller casseroles) that has been generously buttered. Bake at 425°F for about 20 minutes, until edges are brown and top springs back when pressed. Divide the cornbread in two, and proceed to make each dressing separately. (Note: Even better, make this cornbread a day ahead, cube or crumble as indicated by the recipes below, and leave uncovered, to dry out.) Makes enough cornbread for 12 servings of dressing.

Crumble the cornbread in a large bowl and mix with chopped onion, celery (or celery and bell pepper), carrots (or apples) and dried fruit (or fruit and nuts, as desired). Stir in salt, pepper and parsley, adjusting to taste. In a separate bowl, lightly beat together eggs and chicken stock and stir into cornbread mixture, squeezing with hands to moisten well. Pour drippings over this mixture and squeeze in. Add sausage, if using. Spoon into 8-inch casserole dish that has been buttered, and bake at 350°F for about an hour, until edges are brown and top is quite dry.

Cube cornbread, combine with cubed bread in a mixing bowl and set aside.

In a skillet, melt about 1/4 cup butter over medium heat and sauté onions and celery for a minute, just to soften. (Do not brown.) Stir in kosher salt, pepper and poultry seasoning and add to bread mixture. Pour hot stock over, moistening evenly, and set aside. In skillet melt remaining butter, sauté oysters for 1-2 minutes, then fold them into the bread mixture and let cool slightly. Fold in eggs (if the mixture is too hot the eggs will curdle) and adjust seasoning as desired. Spoon into 8-inch or larger casserole dish that has been buttered, and bake at 350°F for 30-60 minutes, until firm and top is dry.
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