In the north, it’s called stuffing. In the south, it’s called dressing. In the east, sometimes it’s called filling.
The word you use means less than the recipe you make and no other dish in the Thanksgiving meal has more family allegiance than stuffing. The main ingredients are mostly the same: Some kind of bread, onions, celery, broth and spices. But, families often pass down their stuffing recipes for generations.
In San Francisco, you might find a sourdough bread base. In Alabama, cornbread. In Louisiana, don’t ignore the andouille sausage. On the east coast, it’s oysters that rock the dish. And mostly, we find a mix of all those ingredients everywhere.
Here is a typical recipe for oyster dressing or stuffing. The key is finding just the right amount of oysters for your taste.
Traditional oyster stuffing
8 cups bread crumbs or small pieces of dry bread
1 cup celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon sage
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 pint fresh or canned oysters
Salt and pepper to taste
In a saucepan, cook celery and onion in butter or margarine until tender but not brown.
Remove from heat. Stir in sage and several dashes of salt and pepper.
Place bread crumbs in a bowl and add the onion and celery mixture.
Whisk the eggs into the chicken broth and drizzle the liquid over the bread crumbs.
Drain liquid from the oysters. Use a scissors to snip oysters into smaller bits then thoroughly stir the oysters into the bread mixture. The dressing can be stuffed into the cavity of the chicken or turkey or placed around it in a large baking pan or roaster.
Cook until the bird is done and the top of the dressing in the pan is brown and crisp. If the bird needs to be cooked longer, periodically baste the dressing with chicken broth or water to keep it from becoming too dry.