Ocean City Today

Simple Oysters Rockefeller recipe

Food For Thought
By Deborah Lee Walker | Jan 04, 2018

(Jan. 5, 2018) The holidays are finally over; I do not know whether to throw my hands up in celebration or console myself until next year.

Christmas is a joyous but stressful time of the year. Maybe if we made the effort to incorporate the real essence of these special times into our everyday lives, we could appreciate the true meaning of “giving.”

Sometimes words of wisdom come your way but are not fully understood. It wasn’t until after the ringing in of the new year that I finally grasped what my dear friend has been trying to tell me.

The real blessings of the holidays are spending time with family and friends, and it is these precious moments that are so memorable. But as we drift down the path of destiny, many of our loved ones are no longer with us. It is then the holiday blues are added to the pot of recollections and make these special days rather difficult.

But if we understand that the departed will always remain in our hearts, we can rekindle the joy of these commemorative celebrations. It is one’s willingness to accept change that determines inner peace and allows one to move forward in harmony.

The beginning of the new year is synonymous with improving ones’ self. I hope my annual resolution of losing weight produces fruitful results. I do not know about you, but the best intentions can quickly dissipate and be reduced to a passing thought.

My first big decision of 2018; should I even make a resolution? Trust me, my track record is not impressive. Maybe reversed psychiatry will come into play and I will finally lose a few pounds.

A moment of inner silence forces me to face reality. I know I will probably not make my final goal. However, as long as I am making an effort, I should trim down with contentment.

Oysters are readily available and are a delicious delicacy. There are so many ways to prepare bivalve molluscs – oysters on the half shell, oyster stew, grilled oysters, fried oysters and Oysters Rockefeller are just a few samplings.

Oysters have only 43 calories, 1.4 grams of fat, and less than one-half gram of saturated fat per order (six oysters). It is the preparation that can lead one into temptation. However, losing weight is a way of life which means cheating is acceptable once in a while. Oysters Rockefeller is worth the walk of shame.

History is an epitome of the future; Oysters Rockefeller has a rich past indeed. Antoine’s Restaurant in New Orleans opened in 1840 and is the oldest family run French-Creole restaurant in the country. Antoine Alciatore, the original owner, made a specialty dish of snails called Snails Bourgignon which was quite popular.

In 1874, Antoine became ill and took a leave of absence. He felt he did not have much longer to live and wished to die and be buried in his birth place, France. Subsequently he passed a year later.

In 1899, Jules Alciatore took over the business. At this particular time, the popularity of snails had subsided and there was also a shortage of French snails. He decided to use a local product in order to avoid any difficulty in procuring it. Jules opted for oysters and adapted the original snail recipe to coincide with Gulf oysters.

This was a bold move for the simple fact that oysters were rarely cooked during this period of time. The dish was given the name Rockefeller because the ingredients produced a very rich appetizer and Jules wanted the name to signify “the richest in the world.”

Oysters Rockefeller is said to be one of the most sought-after recipes in the world. The original formula is a closely guarded Antoine’s secret, though it has been imitated and adapted in many ways. According to Oysters Rockefeller History, the original recipe is said to have been made with watercress and not spinach. In addition, the sauce is a puree of a number of green vegetables.

Oysters Rockefeller is a simple recipe that has probably gone through more interpretation than any other dish. The following recipe captures the grandness of Oysters Rockefeller with a slight twist that is indicative of the Eastern Shore. Enjoy!

Oysters Rockefeller

1/3 cup chopped fennel

1/3 cup chopped parsley

1/3 cup chopped celery

1 cup watercress

1 cup spinach

¼ cup chopped sweet onions

1 large clove garlic, chopped

1 stick unsalted butter

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/3 cup Pernod

1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1/3 plain panko bread crumbs

Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Seafood Magic Blend

rock salt

2 dozen oysters on the half shell

1. In a large sauce pan over medium heat, sauté fennel, parsley, celery, watercress, spinach, onions and garlic in butter for 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool.

2. In the meantime, using an oyster knife, open the oysters shells and remove the oysters. Discard the top shell, wash and dry the bottom shells. Drain the oysters, reserving the oyster liquid.

3. Preheat oven broiler.

4. Place sautéed vegetables, salt, pepper, Pernod and oyster juice into a blender. Puree until all of the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

5. Line an ovenproof plate or platter with a layer of rock salt about 1-inch deep. Slightly moisten the salt. Set oyster shells in the rock salt, making sure they are level.

6. Place a raw oyster in the bottom half of each shell. Spoon a little pureed vegetable mixture on top of each oyster. Top each oyster with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and panko bread crumbs.

7. Broil approximately 5 minutes or until the edges of the oysters have curled and the panko topping is golden brown.

8. Garnish with fresh lemon. Serve immediately.

Secret Ingredient - Abstinence. “You cannot change what you refuse to confront.”

— John Spence

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