Briny, rich and delicious – According to The Food Lover’s Companion, oysters Rockefeller, or “Huitres en coquille a la Rockefeller,” was first created at Antoine’s restaurant in New Orleans in the late 1890’s. The sauce was so rich that it was named after John D. Rockefeller.
By Marissa Sertich
The original recipe is a mystery and full of culinary lore. The owner of Antoine’s demanded the recipe remain a secret when he was on his deathbed and as a result, today, there are many versions and variations. At the most basic form, they are served on the half-shell and topped with a mixture of chopped or pureed greens. There are many different theories of what the original greens might have been. Some sources say the dish includes celery, parsley, green onion, fennel and watercress, while others report the use of spinach. Typically, the dish is presented on a bed of salt, which keeps the oysters from toppling over.
- 3 slices of slab bacon, diced large
- ¼ c Absinthe, or Herbsaint
- 1 ½ c fresh spinach
- ¼ green onions
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- ¼ tsp creole seasoning
- ¼ c breadcrumbs
- 24 unopened, fresh, live medium oysters
- Lemon wedges, for garnish
- Preheat the oven broiler.
- In a large saucepan cook the bacon until evenly brown. Deglaze the pan with Absinthe. WARNING: Absinthe is highly alcoholic and if flambéed, it will burn like jet fuel.
- Using a food processor, blend spinach, green onions, parsley, seasonings, and bacon with its fat. If needed, stream in more absinthe to achieve the consistency of a thick tomato sauce.
- Pour the green mixture into a saucepan and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.The eliminates the flavor of raw greens, making the sauce richer.
- Clean and open the oysters, keeping them on the half-shell.
- Spoon the green mixture onto the oysters and sprinkle breadcrumbs
- Place under the broiler for about 10 minutes.
- Serve on rock salt with lemon wedges
Marissa Sertich Velie is a New York based pastry chef and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. She passionately documents her adventures of baking and eating her way through the fascinating (and sometimes nutty) underbelly of the American pie. Velie has a Master's degree in Food Studies from NYU.