JAMES BEARD’S OYSTER STUFFING (for an 18 to 20 pound turkey)
1-1/2 pounds fresh pork sausage meat
½ teaspoon ground ginger
a large dash of Tabasco
½ teaspoon thyme
one finely chopped garlic clove
½ pound butter, plus 2 tablespoons
2 cups finely chopped shallots or scallions
16 cups (about 1 pound) rustic country bread, cut or torn into ½ inch pieces, crust and all
2 tablespoons or more fresh tarragon, or 2 teaspoons dried tarragon moistened with a little white wine for an hour
2 cups finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons coarse salt, plus 1 teaspoon or to taste
4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
4 pints oysters, chopped
- Spread the bread pieces onto two large jelly roll pans and leave them out overnight to dry.
- Place the pork sausage in a large bowl and add the ground ginger, Tabasco, thyme, garlic and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly with your (scrupulously clean) hands.
- Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium heat and brown the sausage, stirring and crumbling it with a fork, until cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer sausage to a large bowl (the bowl will later accommodate the bread pieces, so it has to be really huge).
- Add 2 tablespoons butter to the skillet and, when it is bubbling, add the shallots or scallions and let them slowly soften in the butter over medium heat, about 4 minutes. Add the onions to the sausage in the bowl.
- Add 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter to the skillet and when it is melted add half of the bread. Toss well over medium heat for 2 or 3 minutes, then transfer to the bowl with the sausage and onions. Melt another 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter in the skillet, add the remaining bread pieces, toss them for a few minutes, then transfer them to the sausage bowl.
- Add the tarragon, parsley, remaining salt and pepper and chopped oysters and mix thoroughly. Stuffing can be made 1 day ahead, cooled completely uncovered, and refrigerated in a resealable plastic bag.
NOTE: Refrigerate stuffing in a container or resealable plastic bag overnight. Bring to room temperature Thursday morning and stuff the dressing loosely into the body and neck cavities of the turkey. Secure the neck flap with kitchen string or pin it to the back with toothpicks or trussing pins. Tying the legs together will help hold the stuffing in the body cavity.
If you are going to roast stuffing separately, place it in a buttered 3 to 4 quart baking dish. Bake the dressing in a 375* oven, uncovered, 1 hour, or until the bread is golden brown and the dressing is heated through. The dressing can be baked while the turkey stands after roasting.
Many variations are possible:
* For a very delicate and distinctive texture, add 2 cups toasted almonds, toasted Brazil nuts, toasted pecans or pine nuts.
* Cognac, whiskey, bourbon or any of the standard liquors make a pleasant flavoring for stuffing. For this recipe use ½ to 1 cup.
adapted from James Beard, American Cookery