I always enjoy going back to classic recipes and reinventing them in a more modern way closer to my own tastes, keeping most of the same ingredients but interpreting them differently. We have always loved oysters and often get them from Steve Milowski, who has a small family operation raising oysters on Fisher Island. Other times I get them in Branford, Connecticut, where John the fisherman sells me a whole case of oysters at a very good price.
Although Gloria and I like oysters best just plain on the half shell, occasionally we cook them. I like to make a great oyster stew with leeks, where the oysters are barely cooked by being added to the stew at the last moment. For this recipe, however, I am redoing the old classic, oysters Rockefeller, although I don’t serve the oysters in the shells, as they are served traditionally. Instead, I saute spinach with garlic and a tiny bit of pepper flakes, salt, and pepper, arrange it in small mounds on individual plates, and top each mound with a raw oyster. I reserve the oyster liquid for soup or combine it with vodka to make a bullshot cocktail. The oysters in the spinach “nest” are then warmed in the oven, while a sauce of butter and shallots is made to finish the dish along with some bacon bits.–Jacques Pépin
Oysters Rockefeller Recipe
- Quick Glance
- Serves 6
- 10 ounces fresh spinach
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 2 dozen medium to large oysters
- 4 slices bacon
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons chopped shallots
- 1. Clean the fresh spinach, removing and discarding the larger stems. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, and when it is hot, add the spinach to the pan. Cover with a lid; the spinach will start softening and reducing in volume. When it becomes soft, turn it in the pan and add the chopped garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes. Cook, tossing and mixing the spinach, for 1 1/2 to 3 minutes, until it is wilted and just tender. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- 2. Open oysters. Drain off the juice, reserving it for other uses.
- 3. Preheat the oven to 190°F (87°C).
- 4. On each of four ovenproof plates, spoon 6 small mounds of spinach inches apart, and press down on the tops gently to make an indentation or “nest” in the center of each mound. Place a raw oyster in each of these indentations and put the plates in the oven to warm while you cook the bacon and the shallots and butter.
- 5. Arrange the bacon side by side on a ridged microwave tray. Microwave for about 5 minutes, until nicely crisped, and then cut or break the slices into 1/4-inch pieces.
- 6. To finish, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook it until it starts changing color, becoming light brown. Add the shallots, stir, and cook for about 30 seconds longer, so the butter continues to cook along with the shallots.
- 7. Remove the hot plates of spinach and oysters from the oven, spoon a little shallot butter on top of each, and sprinkle on some bacon pieces. Serve immediately.
Oysters Rockefeller Recipe © 2007 Jacques Pépin. Photo © 2007 Tom Hopkins. All rights reserved.