(American oysters with green sauce appetizer)
This luxurious shellfish creation was first served at Antoine's Restaurant in New Orleans in 1899. The appetizer is so rich it was named after John D. Rockefeller, the richest man in America at the time.
Creator Jules Alciatore took the exact recipe to the grave with him, but poseurs everywhere have been trying to replicate it ever since. Here is our version.
Makes 24 appetizers, or about enough for 6 to 8 people
- Small oysters in their shell -- 24
- Butter -- 6 tablespoons
- Onion, minced -- 1/2 cup
- Spinach, stems removed, finely chopped - 6 ounces, or about 3 cups
- Parsley, stems removed, finely chopped -- 1 bunch
- Breadcrumbs -- 1/2 cup
- Anise-flavored liqueur, like Pernod (optional) -- 2 teaspoons
- Salt and white pepper -- to season
- Rock salt for serving -- about 2 pounds
- Lemons, cut into wedges -- 4
- Use an oyster knife to open the oysters and remove them from their shells to a bowl. Reserve any oyster liquor and discard the top shells. Scrub, rinse and dry the bottom shells.
- Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until just translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the spinach and parsley and saute for another 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the breadcrumbs, optional anise liqueur, salt and white pepper. Add a little water if necessary to make a thick sauce.
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Put a 1-inch layer of rock salt in an ovenproof serving platter or plate. Set the oyster shells into the rock salt and put a little of the reserved oyster liquor into each shell. Add an oyster to each shell, then top each oyster with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the spinach mixture, spreading it to the edge of the shell.
- Set the oysters in the oven and cook for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until the edges of the oysters curl and the spinach mix is bubbling. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.
Oysters Rockefeller Variations
- Sauce Variations: Add a little finely chopped celery with the onions. Substitute chopped watercress for some or all of the spinach. Add chopped scallions or capers. Substitute olive oil for some of the butter. Add a dash of Tabasco or a pinch of cayenne.
- Put the sauce through a food mill or puree it in a blender or food processor before spooning it onto the oysters.