Oysters Rockefeller, so named after John Davison Rockefeller (1839-1937), a U. S. industrialist who made a vast fortune in the oil business. Rockefeller was the richest American during the time this dish was created by Jules Alciatore in 1899 in his dads (Antoine Alciatore) New Orleans restaurant, “Antoine’s.” The rich buttery, creamy sauce no doubt was a tribute to the rich fortune of Mr. John D. Rockefeller. Just the mention of Oysters Rockefeller stirs up thoughts of the ‘elite’ recipes of oyster dishes.
I can eat oysters any day and any time. Today…it’s time for the classic. Oysters Rockefeller!
I went about it all like this…
First of all you have to start with quality ingredients. I picked up a pound of oysters from Westborn Market, a place I truly appreciate for their fresh produce, gourmet products, and hard to find food items. To properly get to the jewel inside those shells, use an oyster knife if you should have one…or a good sturdy knife if not. If you don’t have a glove specifically for the purpose of opening oysters, fold a kitchen towel to protect your hand. I used one of my butter knives to open the oysters. You want to get the tip of the knife under the hinge, work it a bit, and simply pry the oyster open. After opening the oysters, I used my little sharpie knife to gently run across the top shell to dislodge the muscle that attaches the oyster to its shell. Afterwards run the knife (gently again) under the oyster so that it’s free-floating in its delectable juices on the half shell. Try not to tilt the oyster as you do this — you want to keep that delectableness…that oyster liquor. And of course if your opening of the oyster is less than perfect, just pick out any bits of shell
Yes! This is what we want. That’s a beautiful thing don’t you think? Again, we don’t want to spill any of that sumptuous elixir out of the shells, so try to keep as much as you possibly can within the shell
Oh my! My oh my. At this point we could just squeeze a little fresh lemon over these luscious freshly shucked oysters , add a dash of Tabasco or your favorite Hot Sauce and enjoy. This reminds me of my travels last year (2014) to Rhode Island where we enjoyed a very delicious Seafood dinner at the Nordic Lodge. http://www.nordiclodge.com/
Nordic Lodge, Charleston Rhode Island. This is Deven, expert oyster shucker, serving up some great Oysters on the Half Shell. Delicious! I Had some great conversations with him…a really nice young man.
The Nordic Lodge. If you’re ever in this neck of the woods, do stop in. http://www.nordiclodge.com/index.htm Ok, back to our regularly scheduled program…
I sautéed three scallions, 2 Tbsp chopped parsley, one medium shallot, 1/4 cup chopped celery, and 2 cloves of garlic, (all very finely chopped or minced in a food processor) in 4 Tbsp of butter. After sweating that for a few minutes, I deglazed the pan with 1/4 cup of Pernod. If you don’t have Pernod, white wine will work quite well. Next, I added heavy cream to a consistency that I wanted. Generally heavy cream is not used, but I wanted a nice creamy texture. The aromas!! Add salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste, and a dash of Tabasco Sauce, 1 Tsp of Worcestershire sauce, 1 Tsp anchovy paste (lends a nice saltines), and let the mixture cook down a bit for a few minutes. At the point pictured above I added finely chopped asparagus. Now, the original recipe calls for 1/2 pound or about 2 cups of fresh finely chopped spinach — for use with approximately 30 oysters. In this recipe I substituted asparagus for spinach because it was a rainy evening, I had no fresh spinach on hand, and I really didn’t feel like venturing out into the rain to the fruit and vegetable market just to pick up spinach. Thus… I relaxed, poured myself a lovely glass of white wine, and used what I had on hand–asparagus. So, whatever green vegetable you have on hand. Just give it a good mincing and carry on!
In another pan I heated about 2 Tbsp of olive oil, and added 3 Tbsp chopped parsley with 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, seasoned with salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste. Although I delight in making fresh bread crumbs, I used Panko bread crumbs, but gave them a little smash before-hand. Keeping those stocked in your pantry is a must
Spooning the asparagus mixture onto those lovely oysters. Ideally you would want to have some rock salt on hand. Again, it was a rainy night, I had none, and I was not venturing out…so I used some Kosher salt. The salt is used just to stabilize the oysters in the dish so they don’t tilt and lose that scrumptious oyster juice. Of course the rock salt will lend to a more appealing presentation and photograph. Thus, I do recommend using it
Topped with a little of that Smoked Provolone, Mozzarella, Asiago, and Romano cheese mixture…because my Men-folk like it like that. Then into an awaiting oven preheated at 450 F and baked until golden…about 10 minutes, but you make the call