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Beyond the Half Shell: Oyster-Cranberry Stuffing

This cozy cold-weather recipe isn’t just for the holidays

Illustration: John Burgoyne


Whether you buy a couple of bushels for an oyster roast or a bunch of singles for a dinner party, chances are at some point during peak oyster season you’ll have some extra mollusks to use up. For Savannah Miller, the executive chef at Glasshouse Kitchen in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, the ultimate use for those remaining briny beauties is in a comforting stuffing. “While stuffing is commonly thought of as a holiday dish, it’s something I enjoy making year-round,” she says. “I first made this stuffing a few years ago when I had leftover oysters. After eating them raw the day prior, I wanted to switch things up.” In the colder months, Miller recommends serving the stuffing as a hearty side to whole roast chicken. The tartness of the cranberry also pairs nicely with a grilled pork chop or roast pork loin. As for the oysters, her all-time favorite variety is the Core Sounder—a large, deep-cupped, creamy oyster harvested near Smyrna, North Carolina—which is great raw but also works wonderfully in a baked dish. Core Sound has exceptional water quality, and Miller loves that the oysters are slightly salty but finish sweet. When choosing oysters of any variety from your local purveyor, examine the exterior closely. Pass on any with chipped, damaged, or opened shells, and give them a sniff—oysters should smell like the ocean, not like fish. If you’re lucky, you’ll have extras for stuffing. “A loaf of older bread, a few vegetables you probably already have in your fridge, some flavorful broth, and you’re already halfway there,” Miller says. “Starting with something easily recognizable like stuffing and elevating it with fresh oysters and tart cranberries is my idea of a perfect dish.”


Ingredients

  • Oyster-Cranberry Stuffing (Yield: 8–10 servings)

    • 1 stick plus 3 tbsp. unsalted butter

    • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

    • 2 medium leeks, halved and thinly sliced

    • 4 celery ribs, diced

    • 4 cloves garlic, minced

    • 1 cup dry white wine

    • 6 cups torn bread, dried overnight or in the oven

    • 2 cups dried cranberries

    • 2 dozen oysters, shucked (reserve liquor)

    • 2 to 3 cups chicken broth

    • 2 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped

    • 2 tbsp. fresh sage, chopped

    • 3 tbsp. lemon juice

    • 3 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

    • 2 large eggs, beaten


Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Melt 1 stick of butter with 1 tbsp. olive oil in a heavy sauté pan. Add leeks, celery, and garlic. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes until leeks are almost translucent. Salt to taste. Continue cooking, resisting the urge to stir, until the vegetables begin to brown and a fragrant fond forms on the bottom, about 3 to 5 minutes. Deglaze with white wine and allow to cook for a few more minutes before removing from heat. Cool slightly.

  2. Place bread, cranberries, oysters and liquor, 2 cups of chicken broth, and the leek mixture in a large bowl. Mix to combine. Season with fresh thyme and sage, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper. Mix eggs into the bowl. If the stuffing is too dry, add a splash more broth (but you don’t want it overly soggy). Grease a large casserole pan with 1 tbsp. olive oil. Add stuffing and dot the top with a few pats of butter. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.

  3. Check the stuffing to make sure the middle is set (if not, continue cooking with the foil until set). Then return to the oven uncovered and switch to broil. Cook until the top is crisp and golden.


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