Oysters Rockefeller – Overthinking Classics

Oysters Rockefeller
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The New Year is nearly upon us so it just makes sense to shuck an oyster. As far as I’m concerned, shucking an oyster is as iconic as popping a cork at midnight. And while you could serve your oysters with nothing more than mignonette, there is something to be said for Oysters Rockefeller. A dish so rich they name it after the richest man in America circa 1889. While it may seem like the height of sophistication and it is, it’s actually an incredibly simple recipe to pull off with plenty of make-ahead opportunities. But the simple preparation doesn’t detract from the overall impact of the finished dish. I promise your guests will be impressed. So let’s get to it.

Oysters Rockefeller

As I mentioned Oysters Rockefeller dates back to 1889. The dish was invented in the kitchens of one of the nation’s oldest restaurants, Antoine’s in New Orleans. At that time the region was confronted with a snail shortage, which was a problem for Antoine’s as they had escargot on the menu. So Jules Alciatore, the son of the restaurant’s founder Antoine Alciatore, created Oysters Rockefeller. A dish that borrowed the flavor profile of escargot but made use of local oysters.

Now, because this dish is so iconic, I gave it the Overthinking Classics treatment. But as I mentioned in the video, no one knows the original recipe. The ingredients and proportions have never been publicly shared. So while I would love to remain true to the classic, I don’t know exactly what the classic is. And none of us do. As I mention in the video, any order of Oysters Rockefeller you’ve had outside of the dining room of Antoine’s has been an approximation. And that’s exactly what I’ve provided you with here. I went with spinach, scallions, and Pernod. But you could easily swap that for watercress, shallots, and white wine. You can have fun here because the world is, well, your oyster.

Oysters Rockefeller

The true genius of this recipe is how party-friendly it is. You can easily prep the panko breadcrumb mixture and the green sauce ahead of time and leave the oyster shucking, topping, and baking for when your guests arrive. Plus, if you bust out an oyster-shucking knife, I promise your guests will be impressed. Just make sure you don’t use top-of-the-line oysters. Those should really be enjoyed raw and close to naked. Grab larger, less precious oysters for this dish.

And that’s everything I could think to overthink about Oysters Rockefeller. If you have any lingering questions check out the video below. I go a lot further, arguably too far, in-depth about the dish and the many variations available to you.

Enjoy! 

Oysters Rockefeller

Oysters Rockefeller

This rendition of Oysters Rockefeller features spinach, scallions, and Pernod under a golden lid of panko breadcrumbs accented with garlic and Grana Padano.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Course Snack, starter
Servings 3

Equipment

  • 1 oyster-shucking knife
  • 1 Small Baking Sheet
  • Rock Salt or Kosher Salt

Ingredients
  

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 ½ cup spinach coarsely chopped
  • 1 oz Pernod
  • 2 scallions coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs I used wholewheat
  • ¼ cup Grana Padano ** shredded
  • 12 oysters

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with rock salt or kosher salt. ***
  • Start by mincing one clove of the garlic and thinly slicing the other three. Set both aside.
    4 cloves garlic
  • Melt the butter in a skillet, pour half of it off into a ramekin, and set it aside.
    ¼ cup butter
  • To the butter in the skillet, add the sliced garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the spinach and season with a little salt. Cook until it wilts. Pour in the Pernod and sauté until most of the liquid cooks off. Take the skillet off of the heat and set it aside.
    1 ½ cup spinach, 1 oz Pernod
  • Pour the breadcrumbs into a small bowl. Add the minced garlic, the butter you set aside earlier, and the shredded Grana Padano. Stir to combine and set aside. 
    ½ cup panko breadcrumbs, ¼ cup Grana Padano **
  • Place the spinach in a food processor, add the scallions, and blitz until smooth. Transfer the puree to a bowl and set aside.
    2 scallions
  • Once the oven is up, take the baking sheet out of the oven and start shucking the oysters. Flip your oyster so the bowl faces down. There’s usually a nice little notch near the tip of the oyster that you can force your oyster knife into. Once you’re in, give the knife a little twist and the shell should start to pop open. Run the knife along the inside of the top shell to sever the abductor mussel and remove the shell. Transfer the shucked oyster to the salt bed and repeat with the remaining oysters. 
    12 oysters
  • Spoon a little of the green mixture into each oyster and sprinkle with the panko mixture. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and cook for 8 minutes. Serve immediately.

Notes

** You can use Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino, comté, or gruyere in place of the Grana Padano if you like. 
*** The salt will help keep the oysters upright, so they don’t lose their juices. 
Keyword oysters, pernod, scallions, spinach

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