Executive Chef of the State of Alabama, Montgomery, AL
Featuring whole oysters and his native state's famous Conecuh smoked sausage, this recipe for dressing from chef Jim Smith is a decadent way to celebrate the holiday season.
6 to 8 servings
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup melted butter, at room temperature
- 3 1/2 cups fresh cornmeal, sifted
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 medium onion
- 1 medium green bell pepper
- 2 celery ribs
- Vegetable oil
- 2 cups diced Conecuh sausage
- 1 recipe Cajun Mirepoix
- 8 cups crumbled cornbread
- 2 tablespoons melted fat (bacon, duck, butter, or shortening)
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 1/4 cups chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons picked fresh thyme, stems removed
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
- 24 shelled oysters, liquor reserved
- 1/4 cup reserved oyster liquor
- Salt and black pepper to taste
Make the cornbread: preheat the oven to 450° F and place two 9-inch cast iron skillets in the oven. Preheating the skillets helps the bread to cook evenly, develop a crust, and make removal of the bread easier. In a mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a whisk, and then add the buttermilk, milk, and butter. Set the wet ingredients aside. In another large mixing bowl, whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt until evenly mixed. Using a rubber spatula, slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry mix to combine. Carefully remove the preheated cast iron skillets from the oven and coat them heavily with nonstick spray. Divide the batter equally between the two pans and quickly return them to the oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes and let cool.
Make the Cajun mirepoix: finely dice the onion, green bell pepper, and celery ribs. Mix together and set aside.
Make the dressing: preheat the oven to 375° F. Lightly coat a medium sauté pan with vegetable oil and render the sausage under high heat until it has browned. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the Cajun mirepoix to the pan and sauté until the vegetables are translucent. Be careful not to brown the mirepoix. Remove the mixture from the pan and let it cool. In a large mixing bowl, place the cornbread crumbs, the cooled sausage mixture, and the fat. Combine the ingredients and then add the eggs, stock, thyme, and parsley while gently mixing. Finally, add the oysters and the oyster liquor and mix, making sure to leave the oysters intact. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Coat a 12-inch cast iron skillet with nonstick spray, and evenly pour the oyster dressing batter into the skillet. Bake for 45 minutes.