Coastal Flavor – Holiday Oyster Dressing

The Steamer Baked Oyster BarThe best part of the Thanksgiving season is coming together with those we love the most (and their best recipes) to share all we have to be grateful for throughout the year. One thing that is so interesting to us is how everyone in every area of the U.S. has so many different dishes that are a tradition! If you look at the ingredients of these dishes, though they might be similar to others across the country, a lot of times, they will give you a little background on their family history and where they are from.

A dish that is very common to our coastal area on Thanksgiving is dressing. I know what you are thinking: “That’s common everywhere, right?” Well, ours is a little different. Many families on the Alabama Gulf Coast gather around a table where Oyster Dressing is expected.

Even though I’m personally from the Gulf Coast area, we didn’t serve this delicacy during the holidays. It wasn’t until I was married that I was introduced to this delicious dish! I’ve asked my husband’s family members for the recipe to share but not surprisingly, none of them work from a recipe! (I wouldn’t want them too… It’s that delicious!) Instead, today I’m going to share our area’s Queen of Seafood, LuLu Buffet’s, Oyster Dressing recipe!

• 12 tablespoons/1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, divided, plus more for baking dish
• 1 (8-inch-square) baked and cooled cornbread, preferably on the sweet side
• 15 slices white or wheat bread, toasted and cooled
• ½ large white onion, finely chopped
• 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
• ½ large green bell pepper, finely chopped
• ½ cup chicken broth, plus more as needed
• 2 dozen freshly shucked or jarred oysters, preferably Gulf oysters, drained and coarsely chopped (reserve the oyster liquor)
• ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon hot sauce, preferably Crystal
• ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
• 1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped, or 1 teaspoon ground sage
• 1 ½ teaspoons truffle salt or sea salt
• ½ teaspoon ground white pepper

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by 13-inch baking dish.
2. Crumble cornbread into a large bowl. Tear toasted white or wheat bread into very small pieces, add to cornbread, and toss to combine
3. Melt 8 tablespoons butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion, celery and bell pepper; sauté, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Cover pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are almost translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove cover, add broth, and cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, for 2 to 3 minutes. Continue to cook the mixture for 1 more minute, then remove from heat, add to bread mixture, and stir to combine.
4. In a medium bowl, stir together oysters, lemon juice, hot sauce, parsley, sage, salt, and white pepper. Add to bread mixture and stir well to combine. If the dressing seems too dry, add a little oyster liquor and up to 1/2 cup more chicken broth; mixture should be very moist.
5. Pour dressing into a greased baking dish. Cut the remaining 4 tablespoons butter into small pieces and scatter over the top of dressing. Bake until top and sides are browned, 40 to 45 minutes.

This could be the perfect way to remember a wonderful beach vacation, get excited about your next one or even celebrate while you are here! We hope you’ll enjoy LuLu’s recipe. (Be sure to stop by her location here in Gulf Shores during your next visit… Try the gumbo!) Here’s wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and a fabulous start to the holiday season. We look forward to seeing you on the Alabama Gulf Coast during your next getaway!