By Victoria Bourne | Photograph by Rich-Joseph Facun | Illustration by Walt Taylor
November 27, 2020
For Sam McGann, holiday gatherings in the Norfolk home his grandfather built inspired a passion for Southern hospitality.
“I’ve always felt the most honest food you cook is the food you cook yourself at home – that either has memories from when you were growing up or something that you just do for your friends when you’re at home.”
His stuffing recipe originated as a whimsical garnish for The Blue Point’s oyster stew, but it reminded him of those holiday gatherings in Norfolk. Its origins are traditional, but “the vegetables, the wine-poached oysters, the butter dolloped on top, the splash of stock of some sort adds a personal touch to it.”
The fresh, just-toasted homemade croutons make this stuffing special, he says. The delicate seasonings and the fresh herbs give a flavor profile that makes the difference in a personal sense, that this is “my stuffing,” and not a prepared one.
Sam McGann’s oyster and southern sausage stuffing
“Start the recipe with the croutons first,” McGann says. “Croutons, then sausage, then vegetables, then oysters and herbs.”
Fresh Toasted Croutons
8 cups french bread, cubed (¾ inch)
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl, toss the bread cubes with olive oil, seasoning and salt, coating evenly. Toast the bread on a sheet pan for 12-14 minutes or until
golden brown. Set aside.
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup onions, small dice
1½ cups celery, washed, peeled and medium-diced
½ cup fennel, medium dice
½ cup carrots, small dice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
1 pint oysters in their liquor (whole, shucked and chilled).
½ cup chicken stock, white wine, or some combination of both
½ cup chopped fresh herbs – use parsley, sage, thyme and rosemary
6 ounces Southern breakfast sausage, rendered
Fresh Toasted Croutons (recipe above)
½ stick salted butter, cubed
Render the sausage in a skillet and set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 F .
Grease 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic casserole dish at least 2 inches deep.
Heat the olive oil in a medium-wide sauce pan over medium-high heat.
Sauté the vegetables, stirring frequently, for 6-7 minutes until they are just soft. Season with salt and several turns of fresh-ground pepper.
Add oysters and liquor, plus chicken stock, wine or mixture. Simmer oysters on medium-high heat in stock until just cooked through – about 8-10 minutes.
Fold in herbs and let the mixture cool to room temperature.
In a mixing bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients, fold the wet mixture quickly in with Fresh Toasted Croutons, adding rendered sausage if
Place in casserole dish and dot top with butter.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. Keep warm until ready to serve.