Sausage-Oyster Stuffing

Sweet, salty oysters and spicy sausage are the stars of this classic American stuffing. This is great for Thanksgiving and awesome with most meat or poultry dishes.

Sausage-Oyster Stuffing
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

12 ounces artisanal sourdough bread (about 1 medium loaf)
12 ounces mild Italian Chicken or Pork Sausage, casings removed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
1 1/2 large celery ribs, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 1/4 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
2 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 10 ounce jar oysters or 5 fresh oysters, liquor reserved
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 ounces semihard cheese (preferably Flagship), shredded (about 1/2 cup)
1 to 2 cups of Turkey Stock, Chicken Stock, or store bought low-sodium chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 325°F

Cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes and spread them on two baking sheets. Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the cubes are dry and light brown. Set aside to cool.

Sauté the sausage in a medium skillet over medium heat, breaking up the meat into 1-inch pieces, for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned and cooked through. Set aside.

In the same skillet, reduce the heat to medium-low and melt the butter. Add the onion, celery, garlic, thyme, sage, marjoram, and cayenne and cook until the onion mixture begins to soften but not brown, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Increase the oven temperature to 375°F and butter an 8-inch baking dish.

Put the bread in a large bowl. Drain the oysters over the bread. On a cutting board, chop the oysters into 1-inch pieces. Add the oysters to the bread along with the onion mixture, sausage, salt, pepper, and half of the cheese. Drizzle half of the stock over the mixture and toss gently. Let sit for 5 minutes to absorb the stock. Add enough additional stock to make the bread moist but not soggy (you might not use all of the stock).

Pour the mixture into the baking dish and pat it down. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, uncover, and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the top is beginning to brown. Serve warm.

Make ahead tip: The cooked stuffing will keep up to 3 days ahead in the refrigerator or in the freezer for up to 1 month. Reheat it in a covered baking dish at 375 for 30 minutes.
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