We’re BIG seafood eaters in our family. One of my favorite dishes that Jeff’s mother Kathy makes are her Oysters Rockefeller appetizer. This recipe is great- hands down the best Oysters Rockefeller I’ve ever had. These are a perfect appetizer in the summertime, or any time of the year really!
Oysters Rockefeller was created at the New Orleans restaurant Antoine’s. Antoine’s was founded in 1840 by Antoine Alciatore, who moved to New Orleans after two frustrating years in New York to open a restaurant of his own. It is the country’s oldest family-run restaurant. The dish was created in 1899 by Jules Alciatore, son of the restaurant’s founder.
The dish was named Oysters Rockefeller after John D. Rockefeller, the richest American at the time, for the richness of the sauce. Though the original recipe is a secret, the sauce is known to be a puree of a number of green vegetables other than spinach. It consists of oysters on the half-shell topped with the sauce and bread crumbs and then baked. Jules Alciatore developed Oysters Rockefeller in the face of a shortage of French snails, substituting the locally available oysters for snails. Antoine’s has been serving the original recipe dish since 1899. It is estimated that Antoine’s has served over three million, five hundred thousand orders.
Though many New Orleans restaurants serve dishes purporting to be Oysters Rockefeller, Antoine’s claims that no other restaurant has been able to successfully duplicate the recipe. Knock-off versions of the dish have proliferated in New Orleans, developed to capitalize on the fame of Antoine’s signature dish, but because the recipe for Oysters Rockefeller was passed down from the creator, Jules Alciatore of Antoine’s to his children, and has apparently never left the family’s hands, competing restaurants have had to formulate their own recipes.
This recipe… it’s better than Antoine’s. Trust me.
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/3 cup bread crumbs, Panko preferred
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
- 1/4 cup Pernod (we usually use a little less- you only need a dash because of the strong flavor)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Dash red pepper sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 tablespoon chopped chervil or parsley
- 2 dozen oysters, on the half shell
- Rock salt
- Lemon wedges, for garnish
Melt butter in a skillet. Saute the garlic for 2 minutes to infuse the butter. Place the bread crumbs in a mixing bowl and add half the garlic butter, set aside. To the remaining garlic butter in the skillet, add shallots and spinach, cook for 3 minutes until the spinach wilts. Deglaze the pan with Pernod. Season with salt and pepper, add a dash of red pepper sauce. Allow the mixture to cook down for a few minutes. Finish off the bread crumbs by mixing in olive oil, Parmesan and chervil, season with salt and pepper. Spoon 1 heaping teaspoon of the spinach mixture on each oyster followed by a spoonful of the bread crumb mixture. Sprinkle a baking pan amply with rock salt. Arrange the oysters in the salt to steady them. Bake in a preheated 450 degree F oven for 10 to 15 minutes until golden. Serve with lemon wedges and red pepper sauce.