The holidays are a time of year when families are brought together around a dinner table covered in delicious family specialties. Here in Charleston, we have many holiday traditions involving food, including Oyster Dressing, Hoppin’ John and Collard Greens. It seems every family has their own version of a recipe and a story to go along with it.

We asked Chef Michelle Weaver of Charleston Grill to share some of her recipes for holiday dishes that will be perfect for your family feast. Best wishes for a happy holiday and a prosperous new year from everyone at Charleston Place Hotel.

Chef Michelle Weaver of Charleston Grill

Cornbread Oyster Dressing

Ingredients For Dressing
5 cups cornbread (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup small dice of bacon
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons Italian parsley leaves
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh sage
1 cup roughly chopped fresh baby spinach
1 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups half-and-half
3 dozen oysters, shucked and liquor reserved
Ingredients For Cornbread
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup stone-ground white cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
2/3 cup whole buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Directions
Make the cornbread, roughly crumble it and leave it out overnight to dry. You will need five cups.

When you’re ready to make the dressing, preheat oven to 400°F. Melt butter in a medium sauté pan. Add onions, celery and bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and fat has rendered from the bacon. Remove the pan from heat and add lemon juice and zest and herbs. Allow mixture to cool slightly.

Put crumbled cornbread in a large bowl. Pour the onion mixture over the cornbread and gently toss together. Add spinach and toss again. Add Parmesan cheese. In a separate bowl, mix eggs and half-and-half and pour over the cornbread mixture. Add oysters and their liquor and carefully stir together.

Place mixture into a buttered 8 x 12 x 2-inch baking dish. Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 more minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove dressing from the oven and allow it to rest for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Cornbread
Preheat oven to 400°F and place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet inside to heat.

Sift flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt together. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs just enough to break them up. Stir in sour cream, buttermilk and oil. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Do not overmix.

Pour mixture into hot skillet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Serves: 6

Charleston Grill Collards

Ingredients
2 bunches collard greens, washed and stemmed and chopped rough
1 tablespoon oil
1 large yellow onion, diced small
5 slices apple smoked bacon, chopped rough
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
7 cups chicken stock (or low-sodium chicken broth)
1 bottle beer (Chef Michelle suggests Palmetto Amber)
2 teaspoons Texas Pete hot sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 cloves of garlic, minced

Directions

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add garlic, onions and bacon. Sauté until onions are translucent. Add vinegar, Texas Pete, stock and beer. Bring to a boil, and add the remaining ingredients. Stir in the collards a few at a time (they will wilt, so you will have enough room to get them all into the pot). Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 1½ to 2 hours or until tender.

Serves: 8