Chef Leah Chase’s Holiday Oyster Dressing

Chef Leah Chase's Holiday Oyster Dressing

Prep Time: 1½ Hours
Yields: 6-8 Servings

Chef Leah Chase, the Queen of Creole Cooking from the world-famous Dooky Chase Restaurant in New Orleans, was kind enough to share her oyster bread dressing with me for Thanksgiving Dinner 2005. It is quite simple to do, but the taste is purely Leah.

2 pints fresh oysters in liquid
1 pound ground round
10 slices day-old white sandwich bread
¾ cup water
2 sticks butter
½ cup diced onions
½ cup diced celery
¼ cup diced green bell pepper
¼ cup diced red bell pepper
2 tbsps minced garlic
2 tsps chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp cayenne pepper
salt to taste
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 whole eggs, beaten
¾ cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs

NOTE: Leah suggests placing the bread slices on a cookie sheet covered with clear wrap one to two days prior to making this stuffing or use day-old or stale bread.  Preheat oven to 350º F.  Drain oysters, reserving liquid and coarsely chop in the bowl of a food processor.  Break bread into 1-inch cubes and place in large mixing bowl.  Add oyster liquid and ¾ cup water.  Allow bread to soak until water is absorbed.  In a large cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add ground meat and stir constantly until golden brown.  Ground meat should be grain for grain and well-browned, 15-20 minutes. Add onions, celery bell peppers and garlic.  Sauté 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted.  Add bread, any remaining liquid from bowl and chopped oysters.  Blend well into vegetable mixture.  Cook, stirring constantly, for approximately 15-20 minutes. Season to taste using thyme, cayenne pepper salt and parsley.  Pour mixture into mixing bowl.  Stir and cool slightly, 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add beaten eggs, blending quickly into warm mixture to keep from scrambling.  Pour mixture into 9" x 13" baking pan and top with breadcrumbs.  Bake until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes.