This cocktail party favorite consists of oysters on the half shell that are then topped with a rich, green butter and breadcrumb-based sauce and baked or broiled. When in New Orleans, head to Galatoire's for their rich and bubbly version — it is not to be missed.
Oysters Rockefeller was thought to have been created in 1899 in New Orleans by Jules Alciatore, the son of the owner of one of the country’s oldest family-run restaurants, Antoine’s. The dish was named for John D. Rockefeller, one of the wealthiest men at the time, because of the richness of the sauce.
- ¾ cup chopped fennel bulb, bulb only
- ¼ cup chopped leeks, green and white parts
- ¼ cup finely chopped curly parsley
- ¼ cup finely chopped scallions (green and white parts)
- ¼ cup chopped celery
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 1 ½ cups frozen spinach, cooked, drained, and chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground anise
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup Herbsaint liqueur
- 1 cup (2 sticks) melted, salted butter
- ½ cup seasoned dried breadcrumbs
- 12 cups rock salt
- 6 dozen oysters on the half shell
- 12 lemon wedges
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a food processor, combine the fennel, leeks, parsley, scallions, celery, ketchup, spinach, salt, white pepper, cayenne, thyme, anise, Worcestershire, and Herbsaint. Purée the mixture thoroughly. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the contents of the food processor into a large bowl. Stir in the butter and breadcrumbs. Ensure that the mixture is well blended.
Pour enough rock salt into twelve 8-inch cake pans to cover the bottom of the pans. Arrange 6 oysters in their half shells in each pan.
Fill a pastry bag with the Rockefeller sauce and pipe equal portions of the sauce over each shell (if you do not have a pastry bag, use a large tablespoon to distribute the sauce).
Place the pans in the oven and bake for 5 minutes, or until the sauce sets.
Turn up the heat to broil and broil the oysters for an additional 3-4 minutes, until the tops are bubbling. It may be necessary to bake the oysters in batches.
Line each of 12 dinner plates with cloth napkins that have been folded into neat squares. Carefully nestle the pans of the oysters within the folded napkins. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve at once.