A round of oysters is always cause for celebration, and this time of year on the Chesapeake Bay, that shows up in the form of oyster stuffing. Whether stuffed into a bird or cooked in a cast-iron pan, it’s a time-honored tradition during the holiday season. Or, as Kara Mae Harris’s Festive Maryland Recipes reports The Baltimore Sun putting it in 1914, “Inside the oyster belt at Thanksgiving time, it is nothing short of heresy to fail to serve turkey with good old-fashioned oyster stuffing.” Throw it into a Joan and consider it tradition.

Recipe by Rachel Rappaport.

Yields 8 servings.

Best cooked in the Joan.


  • 2 celery stalks, with greens, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 pint shucked oysters, with liquor
  • 6 cups stale white bread, loosely torn
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup ham, diced
  • ¼-½ tsp. celery seed
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • ½ tsp dried savory
  • ½ tsp. dried marjoram
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Tip: If celery does not have greens attached, sub in about ¼ loose cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter your cast-iron pan and set aside. In another large pan, such as a Joan or Joe, melt butter and sauté the celery and onions until the celery is tender and the onions are translucent, about 15 minutes. While the celery and onions are cooking, place the bread, eggs, ham, and spices in a large bowl and stir to evenly distribute all the ingredients, and set aside. Once the celery and onions are cooked, add the oysters and their liquor to the pan and cook for 30 seconds. Add the oyster mixed to the bread mixture and stir to evenly distribute the ingredients. Spoon into the prepared cast-iron pan. Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake an addition 5 to 10 minutes, or until the stuffing is cooked through but slightly creamy-custardy in the middle and the top is lightly crispy. Serve immediately.

Illustration by Ben Claassen. Design by Sara Tomko. Courtesy of Kara Mae Harris of Old Line Plate.

November 21, 2023

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