Oyster Dressing

Most people eat holiday dressing made with bread cubes or even cornbread.  Not my crowd. We eat a Louisiana dressing with a rice base. It is somewhere between white and dirt colored so it is not much to look at but it beats traditional dressings hand down.

Oyster Dressing

1 cup diced bell pepper

1 cup diced onion

1 cup diced celery with tops

2 cups of rice

4 cups of water

1.5 lbs cleaned deveined shrimp (raw if you can find them)

2 small or one large containers of oysters

4 raw eggs

1 or two tablespoons of Gumbo File (Fee-Lay)

One half teaspoon of fresh Cayenne pepper (to taste)

½ teaspoon of white pepper

1 tablespoon of dried thyme

Salt to taste (about ¾ of a teaspoon)

1 cup of diced ham, Andouille or both!

2 large ladles of cooled turkey drippings

Cook your rice ahead of time. Spray your rice pot with Pam and bring the water to a boil. Add the rice stirring to bring back to a boil. Turn it down to low and cook for 30 minutes with the lid tight. Remove from heat and separate with a dinner fork. Let the rice cool to room temperature.

Sauté your trinity in about an eighth to a quarter cup of hot vegetable oil. Add in the salt, pepper, cayenne and gumbo file when the onions start to clear. This mixture should be dark and dirty gray. If not, add more File.

Beat your eggs in the bottom of the biggest mixing bowl you can find and start adding your cooled rice. Use your hands to get the lumps out. Add the trinity mixture and the turkey drippings and then taste. Add your oysters and your shrimp.

Bake in a deep lasagna pan, covered, at 350 for an hour and a half. Remove your cover and let it dry out just a bit. You want moist and slightly sticky. Not soupy. It should stay on the spoon just long enough to get to the plate. If it needs more time in the oven, stick it back in and keep serving your guests drinks. They will not complain.

Tips: The rice should be cool so the egg does not cook. You may want to drain your oysters as the liquor gives the dressing a strong flavor. That is a matter of taste. Raw shrimp are best but you may need more cooking time and a lower temperature. Oysters may be whole or chopped. This thing is heavy so two aluminum pans makes a smart move and if you spray the pans with oil, you eat more dressing as you lose a lot to the sides if you do not. If you cheat and buy the frozen Trinity, buy two bags and add a fresh onion. Except for the rice, all ingredients are flexible for quantity. Comme ci, comme ça. 

Keep in mind that if the oysters are any good at all they will be salty so season accordingly.

Finally, when playing with Cayenne pepper remember that all spices become stale with age. Some are sold that way. If you use stale Cayenne, then you want a half a teaspoon or more. If your pepper is fresh, like you find in high end markets, a quarter to a half of a teaspoon will be enough heat for the whole family.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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