from Chef Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia in Louisville, Kentucky
1 ¾ pounds cornbread
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 ¾ cups onion, chopped
1 ¼ cups celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
5 ounces country ham (the saltier the better), finely diced
1 ½ tablespoons fresh sage
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon nutmeg
About 20 oysters, freshly shucked and roughly chopped, reserving shells
Liquid (“liquor”) from the oysters
¾ cup chicken broth
¾ cup milk
3 large eggs
A few more teaspoons of butter for top
½ cup pecans, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cube cornbread into ½-inch cubes. Toss melted butter with cornbread and lay out flat on a baking sheet, crumbs and all. Bake, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until a nice toasty color forms.
Meanwhile, melt 5 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Sauté onions, celery, and garlic until vegetables are translucent, about 6 minutes.
Transfer cooked vegetables to a large bowl. Toss gently with toasted cornbread. Add diced country ham, sage, thyme, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add oysters with liquor. Mix with a rubber spatula.
Warm chicken broth and milk together in a small pot just until simmering. Add to stuffing mixture.
Beat eggs lightly and fold into stuffing mixture
Lightly butter a 13×9-inch baking dish. Transfer stuffing to baking dish, dot with a few teaspoons of butter, and sprinkle with chopped pecans.
Turn oven down to 350 degrees. Bake, covered with foil, for 35 minutes.
While dressing is baking, clean out oyster shells. When dressing is done, scoop large spoonfuls to stuff oyster shells. Bake for 5 minutes uncovered. Serve immediately on wooden platters.