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5 cups cornbread (recipe follows)
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup small dice of bacon
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
1 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves
2 Tbs. Italian parsley leaves
2 Tbs. roughly chopped fresh sage
1 cup roughly chopped fresh baby spinach
1 cup freshly shredded parmesan
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups half-and-half
3 dozen oysters, shucked and liquor reserved
Make the cornbread, roughly crumble it, and leave it out overnight to dry. You will need five cups.
When you’re ready to make the dressing, preheat oven to 400°F. Melt butter in a medium sauté pan. Add onions, celery, and bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and fat has rendered from the bacon. Remove the pan from heat and add lemon juice and zest and herbs. Allow mixture to cool slightly.
Put crumbled cornbread in a large bowl. Pour the onion mixture over the cornbread and gently toss together. Add spinach and toss again. Add parmesan cheese. In a separate bowl, mix eggs and half-and-half and pour over the cornbread mixture. Add oysters and their liquor and carefully stir together.
Place mixture into a buttered 8 x 12 x 2-inch baking dish. Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 more minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove dressing from the oven and allow it to rest for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
For the Cornbread:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup stone-ground white cornmeal
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2/3 cup whole buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 400°F and place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet inside to heat.
Sift flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt together. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs just enough to break them up. Stir in sour cream, buttermilk, and oil.
Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Do not overmix. Pour mixture into hot skillet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.