Oyster Bread Dressing

Photo by Cynthia LeJeune NoblesThe recipe for Oyster Bread Dressing is from Octavia Marie Sansovich, of Baton Rouge, and a member of the Sansovich oyster-purveyor family of New Orleans. Show caption
Photo by Cynthia LeJeune NoblesThe recipe for Oyster Bread Dressing is from Octavia Marie Sansovich, of Baton Rouge, and a member of the Sansovich oyster-purveyor family of New Orleans.

Oyster Bread Dressing

Makes 10 to 12 servings. Recipe is by Octavia Marie Sansovich, Baton Rouge. The Sansovich family is originally from Hvar, Croatia, and its members were oyster purveyors in New Orleans from the late 19th through early 20th centuries. During that time, New Orleans processors sent wagons to purchase oysters from the luggers and two-masted schooners that docked at the Old Basin Canal. Another oyster landing site was at Bayou St. John; and yet another, the “Picayune Pier,” also known as “Lugger Bay,” sat at the foot of Dumaine Street.

Giblets from a turkey or large chicken

8 tbls. butter, divided

1 qt. oysters

1 (15-in.) loaf day-old french bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 cup water

2 large onions, chopped

1 bunch green onions, chopped

6 stalks celery, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup chopped parsley

1½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. cayenne

1/4 tsp. ground thyme

2 eggs

1⁄3 cup buttered bread crumbs

1. Set aside liver from turkey. In a small saucepan, cover remaining giblets with water. Cover and simmer 1 hour. Add reserved liver and simmer an additional 20 minutes. Drain and chop meat. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat the inside of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon butter and set aside.

2. Drain oysters, reserving liquid. Wash oysters, cut each in half and return to oyster water. Set aside.

3. Place bread in a large bowl with water and set aside to soak.

4. Drain oysters well, reserving liquid.

5. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven and sauté onion, green onion, celery and garlic. When tender, add oysters, bread, giblets, parsley, remaining 4 tablespoons butter, salt, black pepper, cayenne and thyme. Heat through thoroughly then remove from heat.

6. Beat eggs and slowly combine with oyster mixture. Add enough reserved oyster liquid to moisten slightly. (Be careful — too much liquid makes the dressing gummy.) Pour evenly into prepared pan and top with bread crumbs. Bake until thoroughly heated through, about 1 hour.