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Looking for cornbread/oyster dressing recipes and share your success with brining

This Yankee wants to make some cornbread oyster dressing for Thanksgiving. Definitely has to be cooked OUTSIDE the bird. Very lazy, can I use cornbread from the store? Have some challah in the freezer I can defrost and dry out, can I add that? Do you cook the oysters in advance? Can I add some mushrooms to it? Also, thinking about brining the bird and roasting indoors this year (husband usually smokes it on BBQ). Can I use a large cooler to store bird in with lots of ice? Planning for dinner service at 6 p.m., put bird in oven around 2:30 or 3:00, should I brine the night before? Should I worry about bird in cooler (bacteria development!)? How much more ice will I need? What is the optimal brining solution recipe for a 12 lb. turkey? Thanks in advance.

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  1. Most often I make a bread dressing with oysters and make the cornbread variety with sausage.

    Damon Lee Fowler suggests that you combine bread and cornbread, about 3 C. each for the dressing and a pint of well drained shucked oysters and instead of 1/2 C broth in the dressing you add 1/2 C. oyster liquor.

    I have made my own cornbread for dressing but often use the Pepperidge Farms bagged stuff. It is acceptable and it is one less thing to have to bake.

    1. I'm with Candy: stale french or italian bread for the oyster dressing, not cornbread. I do like crawfish-cornbread dressing, or pork sausage in it, too. My grandmother's/mother's old standby dressing is a simple cornbread w/chunks of deboned cooked chicken or turkey in it. I would't use storebought precooked cornbread, it often has sugar added that wouldn't really help the dressing any. Make the cornbread ahead of time & stick it in the freezer...will work just as good as "fresh" cornbread.

      1. I love crawfish corn bread! I am very violently anti-sugar in cornbread but I have never noticed the PF to be sweet. I guess all of the herbs and the vermouth and butter I use in it mask any sweetness. I usually have a bag on hand so I can make some up as a side on demand.

        1. So it sounds like I can make the oyster dressing with challah. I usually make my bread dressing with chicken stock, sauteed onions, celery and mushrooms, salt & pepper,poulty seasoning and a little sage and bake for 30-45 min at 350. Sound OK? Should I cook the oysters in advance or with the dressing?

          4 Replies
          1. re: Diane in Bexley

            No, don't pre-cook the oysters. If you do you will end up with dressing and oysters with the texture of erasers. Just drain the oysters and fold them gently into the dressing before baking and substitute some of or all of the chicken stock with oyster liquor (the juice from the drained oysters).

            1. re: Candy

              And taste the oysters/oyster liquor before adding...flavor varies widely, and commercially shucked oysters are washed before packaging. Sometimes they're not sufficiently "oystery" for me. You can supplement with a tiny bit of bottled clam juice if the seafood flavor is too subtle for your tastes. Your basic seasonings sound great--I'd add garlic, finely chopped green pepper, and a whole bunch of finely chopped flat leaf parsley.

              1. re: Hungry Celeste

                Yes, red & green peppers would make the dressing taste good and look festive. Unfortunately, DH is deathly allergic. Is flat leaf parsley the same as cilantro? My mom is deathly allergic to cilantro.

                1. re: Diane in Bexley

                  No, flat leaf parsley isn't the same thing as cilantro/coriander. It is regular old parsley (aka italian parsley)--just not the decorative curly kind, which doesn't have much taste. Parsley is an often overlooked flavor...green, bitter, herby. If you can't add green pepper, then definitely use fresh chopped parsley & a little lemon zest/juice, too.

          2. I brined last year. It was the best, moist, juiciest turkey I ever had. If you are concerned with the cooler and bacteria, I suggest going to Williams-Sonoma, they have brining bags. I used them and was able to keep the turkey and brine in my refrigerator.