Friday, November 29, 2013

Oyster Stuffing (Gluten Free)

Oyster stuffing is...terrific, provided you like oysters. If you have no feelings about oysters, or have never had them, hiding them in stuffing might be a way to get to know them. However, I would go to someplace like Clyde's  first, with a friend who likes oysters and try one or two oysters off your friend's plate.
I first had oysters at the Harvard Club when I was about 14. Being an adventurous eater, I was not squeamish about sliding an oval of slippery saltiness down my throat. I have loved them ever since, and hope to emulate our 90 year old friend, Mrs. Curtiss, who sends us a postcard every fall saying "I'm going to Paris to eat oysters." There can be few better ways of spending one's money in one's old age.
This oyster stuffing is obviously meant for a goose, since the first ingredient is butter or goose fat, moving on to a goose liver. Well. we were having turkey, so I used butter and extracted the turkey liver and chopped that up. This meant that Watson, the new puppy, could not participate in a canine Thanksgiving tradition, that of giving the dog a sauteed turkey liver. I'm sure he would have loved a turkey liver, but since he had never had one he wasn't upset.
I had to  make two stuffings, one with oysters, and one without, for my shellfish allergic husband, Bob. Neither one was stuffed into the turkey, as Bob split the turkey open and roasted it in pieces. I made the oyster stuffing gluten free by using gluten free corn bread stuffing from Whole Foods. Oyster stuffing outside a turkey is perhaps a little dry. If you want to put it in a baking dish, cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and use more oyster liquor, which is a polite word for that glutenous stuff the oysters come in. Oyster juice, if you will.
We had gone to the Thanksgiving service at church and did not get home until after 11 am. I had done next to nothing in advance, in spite of my advice doled out with the Thanksgiving menus. I began with the oyster stuffing, since I wasn't baking any bread. I had in the back of my mind that the stuffing had to be finished so it could go in the turkey, even though we had been talking about spatchcocking it for a couple of weeks.
The oyster stuffing was done in half an hour, and what wouldn't fit in the baking dish went to my brother George who acted as taste tester. He pronounced it good and asked for it when it was time to fill the plates.
Another convert!

Oyster Stuffing

1/4 cup butter or goose fat
1 onion finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 goose liver or turkey liver, chopped
6 cups stale one-quarter-inch white bread cubes (use gluten free stuffing, available at Whole Foods and other businesses that sell gluten free products)
2 cups oysters with liquor (oyster juice)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon marjoram

1. Melt the butter in a skillet and saute the onion and celery in it until tender, but not browned. Add the liver and cook quickly two to three minutes. Put the bread cubes in a bowl and add the liver mixture.
2. Strain the oyster liquor, through cheesecloth if gritty, into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and add cleaned oysters. Simmer three minutes or until the edges of the oysters just curl.
3. Skim out the oysters and quarter them if they are very large, halve them if they are average. Add to the bread mixture.
4. Add the remaining ingredients and enough oyster liquor, usually about one-third cup, to moisten the dressing. Makes enough stuffing for a seven to eight pound goose or turkey.

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