Improving on the mighty raw oyster… puhleeeese. Freshly shucked with a little splash of tabasco, it’s such an amazingly simple and sumptuous bite. From my title, you may know where I’m going with this, there is that legendary creation that most definitely comes close; Oysters Rockefeller.
Thank you Antoine’s for moving to New Orleans, most likely that contributed to your culinary exploration of ocean creatures and choosing the oyster when the shortage of snails demanded creative solutions. Created in 1899 by Jules Alciatore, son of the restaurant’s founder and named after John D. Rockefeller because of the ultra-rich sauce, Oysters Rockefeller continues to elicit ooos and aaaahs from food enthusiasts everywhere.
I resisted the temptation to stray from that most purist of briny goodness, the raw or slightly steamed oyster with hot sauce on a saltine, for many, many years. While on a trip with my husband in California some years ago and driving along the coast north toward Mendocino, we stopped at an “oyster shack” to try some highly recommended West Coast oysters. When they arrived, we asked about sauce… hot sauce, cocktail sauce… crackers? “No, we don’t have those, how about Mignonette Sauce?” I had been eating oysters all my life and never heard of it, but its delicious on oysters… shallots (on my favorites list) pepper (top of my list) and vinegar. But back to O. R.
Good food drives most of our travel plans; it’s just so important! Most of the time the reward of “finding” a great new place or exciting, delicious dish is well worth the time it takes to research and fit meal opportunities into our itinerary. I hate to admit it, and will most definitely correct it on our next trip to New Orleans, but we have never dined at Antoines. I LOVE New Orleans and the amazing food options from muffeletta sandwiches from the market to super fine dining available throughout the city. Galatoires on Bourbon Street has very good fellers and they surprised me when I asked for a recipe and my waiter handed me a postcard with their recipe, apparently they have been approached before. I will try that one… but I haven’t yet. Presently, my favorite place for Oysters Rockefeller is in Savannah at Vic’s On the River. I enjoyed a plate 9 days ago and that prompted my decision to cook some last night. Vic’s was kind enough to share a list of ingredients they may or may not use in their’s but no recipe. So as usual, I searched some recipes online looking for what I would imagine to be the very best representation. I ended up going with a recipe on Bon Appetit and making a few variations.
Here is the recipe… a starting point, I almost never follow a recipe exactly… I like to add my favorite ingredients where I can and make the dish my own.
1 garlic clove
2 cups loosely packed fresh
1 bunch watercress, stems
trimmed (I didn’t use any… but added extra spinach)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) unsalted
butter, room temperature
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons Pernod or other
anise-flavored liqueur ( I used Sambuca)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground (no… I couldn’t locate mine, so I added an little extra Sambuca)
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (I did a Tablespoon)
1 pound (about) rock salt
24 fresh oysters, shucked,
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Position rack in top third of oven and preheat to 450°F. Finely chop garlic in processor. Add spinach, watercress and
green onions to garlic. Process, using on/off turns, until mixture is finely chopped. Transfer mixture to medium bowl.
Combine butter, breadcrumbs, Pernod, fennel and hot sauce in processor. Process until well blended. Return spinach
mixture to processor. Process, using on/off turns, just until mixtures are blended. Season with salt and pepper. DO
AHEAD Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover; chill.
Sprinkle rock salt over large baking sheet to depth of 1/2 inch. Arrange oysters in half shells atop rock salt. Top each
oyster with 1 tablespoon spinach mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake until spinach mixture browns on top, about 8
ORIGINAL RECIPE on BonAppetit
It was amazingly easy! I wish I had found larger oysters, and will try to get better ones next time. We really loved this first attempt at making these at home… so fresh and bright and delicious. If you LOVE oysters, you should get to shucking and give these a try.
My very, very favorite and unforgettable oyster dish is the wood-fired spicy roasted ones at Cochon in New Orleans… if you planning a visit you should definitely stop in!