Last week I gushed about shucking oysters for the first time! While I love a simple raw oyster with a little mignonette sauce and lemon, baked or cooked oysters are quickly becoming a favorite of mine as well. One of the most well-known and traditional preparations for oysters involves baking them on the half shell with a spinach or parsley and breadcrumb mixture — or Oysters Rockefeller.
And the great thing about this dish is the hardest part is shucking the oysters… which I’ve learned with a little practice gets a whole lot easier!
Antoine’s Restaurant in New Orleans is credited with inventing this simple dish in 1899. The story goes, Jules Alciatore, son of the restaurant’s owner, created the dish after a shortage of snails and named it after John D. Rockefeller, the richest man at the time. The restaurant has seen served more than 3 million orders and its their signature dish!
While the exact recipe remains in the hands of the Alciatore family, many believe authentic Oysters Rockefeller is made up of a sauce of parsley, pureed celery, scallions, olive oil and capers. I am not a huge fan of parsley so opted for spinach sautéed with shallot, butter, a little white wine and topped with breadcrumbs and cheese.
This was delicious to me though and you really can’t go wrong with any sort of gratin! Breadcrumbs, good! Spinach, good! Butter, good! And all together, amazing!
Furthermore, it’s a great appetizer and a simple dish (and presentation). The briny liquor of the oysters adds great flavor to the gratinee mixture! It’s salty and a little sweet all at the same time with good texture from the soft oyster to the crunchy breadcrumbs.
In any event, no matter how many you make, you’ll be sure to polish then off in seconds. They are so delicious!
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ⅓ cup bread crumbs, Panko preferred
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
- ¼ cup white wine
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- dash red pepper sauce
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan
- 1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
- 2 dozen oysters, on the half shell
- In a medium skillet, melt butter. Add garlic and saute for 2 minutes; remove from heat.
- 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. De-glaze the pan with white wine. Season with salt and pepper. Allow the mixture to cook down for a few minutes.
- Finish off the bread crumbs by mixing in olive oil, Parmesan and parsley, & 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. Bake in a preheated 450 degree F oven for 10 to 15 minutes until golden.