According to history, it’s likely that oysters were on the table at the first Thanksgiving feast in 1621 than turkey and the, not yet invented, pumpkin pie. Seafood was plentiful in Plymouth, Mass., as was corn meal after the first harvest in the New World, so, being a pescetarian (a fishy vegetarian) and a history buff, this hereby, oyster stuffing is a win-win!
Fortunately, we don’t have to go out and harvest our own oysters, heck, we don’t even have to open the shells! Freshly shucked oysters are available in most seafood departments or at your local fish market.
If you can use fresh herbs, all the better, if not, dried will work too. I added fresh spinach to this dish to sneak in some greens and add something fresh before baking. Use good bread, I bought the cornbread that I used for this recipe, from the artisan baker at Murray Hollow Farm. You can find this beautiful bread at Healthy Living Market two days a week. I left it out overnight before cubing.
If you can, use a cast iron skillet for this dish to ensure a crispy top and bottom crust on your stuffing but you can use a buttered casserole dish just as well. Here’s what you will need:
4 cups of day old bread cut into cubes
½ cup finely chopped celery
¼ cup finely chopped shallots
1 cup fresh chopped spinach
½ pint raw oysters chopped
1 large egg beaten
½ cup seafood stock or broth
1 cup vegetable stock or broth
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon each: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (sounds like a song)
½ teaspoon lemon juice
Sea Salt and fresh ground pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with skillet in oven. In a separate sauté pan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter and olive oil. Add celery and shallots. Cook for about 6 minutes then add all the herbs and cook for 2 more minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a bowl toss together bread cubes, herb and cooked veggie mixture, chopped oysters, egg and stocks. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Add chopped spinach. Remove skillet from the oven, coat the bottom with remaining tablespoon of butter. Pour stuffing mixture into skillet and bake for 25 minutes. Serve hot from the skillet.
Cod and lobster were also available to the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians…… This could change the whole tradition…. Happy Thanksgiving!!
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