20 oysters, shucked, plus their liquor
3 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread, recipe follows
3 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 medium shallots, thinly sliced
2 celery stalks (with leaves), thinly sliced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoon white dry vermouth
Put the oysters in a strainer over a medium bowl to catch their liquor. Reserve 3/4 cup of the oyster liquor. In a large bowl, combine the crumbled cornbread and oysters.
Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add the bacon and cook for 1 minute. Drain and pat dry with a paper towel.
Melt 1/2 cup of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the foaming subsides, add the bacon, shallot, celery, salt, and season with pepper, to taste. Cook, stirring, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the parsley, thyme, reserved oyster liquor, and vermouth and bring to a boil. Transfer the shallot-herb mixture to the cornbread and oysters and stir to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Transfer the cornbread mixture to a buttered 1-quart gratin dish, dot with the remaining butter, and bake until browned and crusty, about 1 hour.
Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
Cook's Note: Try to find already shucked oysters in their liquor (juice) in small plastic tubs at your local supermarket or seafood monger.
Cornbread for Stuffing:
1 cup stone-ground cornmeal
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, plus more for the brushing the pan
Butter a 3 1/4 x 5 3/4 x 2-inch loaf pan. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and combine with the milk. Pour the milk mixture into the cornmeal mixture and mix lightly with a rubber spatula until a thick batter is formed. Stir in the melted butter until just incorporated.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool.