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Oysters Rockefeller

The famed oyster creation was invented in 1899 in New Orleans at Antoine’s restaurant and named for the richness of its green sauce. The original version had eighteen ingredients in the sauce and has remained a trade secret to this day. Nonetheless, I maintain a very definite opinion on what the perfect Oysters Rockefeller should be and this is my private formula.

Makes36 oysters, 6 to 9 servings

Cooking Methodbaking

CostSplurge

Total Timeunder 2 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionFormal Dinner Party

Recipe Courseappetizer, hors d'oeuvre

Dietary Considerationpeanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Mealdinner

Moodromantic

Taste and Texturecheesy, creamy, rich

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and minced
  • ½ cup minced fennel bulb
  • 1 bunch watercress, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons Pernod or Herbsaint (an anise-flavored Southern cordial)
  • Tabasco sauce to taste
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 cup heavy or whipping cream
  • 1 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1½ pounds kosher (coarse) salt
  • 36 fresh oysters on the half-shell

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots, scallions, and fennel; sauté until the vegetables are quite soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the watercress, spinach, and parsley; cook until the watercress is wilted, 2 to 3 minutes longer.

  2. Stir in the Pernod, Tabasco, lemon juice, bread crumbs, cream, and ½ cup of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Let the sauce simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors and thicken slightly. Cool to room temperature.

  3. Spread a ½-inch layer of the salt on each of 2 baking sheets. Cover each oyster with a generous tablespoon of the green sauce and arrange the oysters securely on top of the salt. Sprinkle a little of the remaining Swiss cheese on top of each. (The oysters may be prepared up to this point and refrigerated for a few hours before cooking.)

  4. Preheat the oven to 450°F.

  5. Bake the oysters until the cheese and sauce are bubbling, 5 to 8 minute. Serve at once.

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