Prepare this dish a day or so ahead, but don't bake it until just moments before serving. After you've combined the ingredients, evaluate the consistency. If the French bread seems too dry, add a cup or two of chicken stock.
- 8 tablespoons butter, cubed
- 2 ounces slab or thick-cut bacon, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1/2 onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 large baguettes, cubed (to yield about 12 cups)
- 4 dozen shucked oysters
- 1 cup oyster liquor
- 2 green onions, minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10-by-14-inch or other similar-size shallow baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside.
Cook the bacon in a large skillet over moderate heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 7 tablespoons butter and let it melt, then add the celery, bell peppers, onions, and garlic and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes.
Put the baguette cubes into a large bowl. Spoon the bacon and vegetable mixture on top. Add the oysters and their liquor, along with the green onions and parsley.
Beat the eggs with the hot sauce and salt in a small bowl. Pour the eggs into the bowl with the bread cubes and gently stir until the dressing is well combined. Spoon the dressing into the prepared baking dish and bake in the upper third of the oven until heated through and crisp on top, about 45 minutes. Serve hot.