Santa Fe Holiday Recipes: Chef Matt Ostrander’s Oyster Stuffing

People love cooking special dishes for the holidays. Many Santa Fe chefs rise to the occasion. This is the second post in our holiday recipe series.

Matt Ostrander’s restaurant career started on the bottom rung of the front-of-the-house ladder. The now Executive Chef at Luminaria, the restaurant at the Inn and Spa at Loretto, started out bussing tables. It was the easiest job to get over summer vacation.  After leaving school, he worked as a busser, then food-runner and finally “back waiter”. While working at Geronimo, an upscale dining spot, he spent a lot of time watching the chefs and asking a lot of questions. He got “promoted” to the lowest spot on the kitchen line, composing salads and desserts at lunch. He did well and got a couple of coveted evening shifts. A promotion to the grill got his cooking career off the ground. He learned his craft working with a lot of great chefs around Santa Fe. Luminaria marks the first time the talented chef is running his own kitchen.

Santa Fe Holiday Recipes:Chef Matt Ostrander's Oyster Stuffing

Matt Ostrander, Executive Chef at the Inn and Spa at Loretto's Luminaria, photo Steve Collins

Ostrander, a Buddhist who trained in Ayurvedic cooking, brings that philosophy to the kitchen. The restaurant serves what he calls, “Conscious Cuisine”. He says the name “came to me as a way to show people how I feel about food.”  His philosophy includes the belief “that eating right, healthy and smart, will make us better people.” While he can’t practice true Ayurvedic cooking as it’s scaled to individual needs, he adopted their seasonal approach to food. “Eating the right food in the right time of year puts you into harmony with your environment,” Ostrander says. His approach offers diners healthy and delicious food. “I am consciously thinking about your meal,” he says, “so that you may just come in and enjoy it.”

Matt Ostrander shares his Smoked Oyster Stuffing, a great accompaniment for your holiday bird.

Smoked Oyster Stuffing


2 loaves Italian or French bread (1 lb total), cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/2 lb sliced bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2/3 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
8 oz. can smoked oysters(strained, rinsed, and minced)
2 1/4 cups turkey stock or low-sodium chicken broth


Preheat oven to 325°
Spread bread cubes in 2 shallow baking pans and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of pans halfway through baking, until golden, 25 to 30 minutes total. Cool bread in pans on racks, and then transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, cook bacon in a skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain, reserving fat in skillet.
If bacon renders less than 1/4 cup fat, add enough oil to skillet to total 1/4 cup fat. Cook onions, celery, thyme, sage, garlic, salt, and pepper in fat in skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to bowl with bread cubes, then stir in bacon, parsley, butter, and oysters. Drizzle with stock, then season with salt and pepper and mix well by hand to create an even distribution.
Transfer stuffing to a buttered 3- to 3 1/2-quart shallow baking dish. Bake, covered, in middle of oven 30 minutes,  remove cover and bake until browned, about 30 minutes more.

Editor’s note: Do you have any favorite Santa Fe Holiday Recipes to share? Let us know, we’d love to hear about them.

Chef Matt Ostrander left Luminaria since this post was posted.

4 Responses to “Santa Fe Holiday Recipes: Chef Matt Ostrander’s Oyster Stuffing”

  1. Traveling Ted
    December 20, 2019 at 9:49 am #

    It has got parsley, sage, and thyme. One more ingredient and it would sound like a Simon and Garfunkel song. Sounds delicious.

    • Billie Frank
      December 21, 2019 at 9:23 am #

      And we could remember the recipe- rosemary for remembrance if you remember your “Hamlet”.

  2. Charles Higgins
    December 21, 2019 at 7:50 am #

    Looks/ sounds delish..


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