As I have said before, our normal Christmas dinner, is not normal, and is perhaps not for everyone, as in principle I do not cook on Christmas Day . And this for someone, who just has to cook, is a bit of an oddity. However, Number one son and his bride also love to cook. NBG is more of a cook and Mrs. G # 7 ( I have lost count, so numerous are we) is more of a baker. So they complement each other well.
So off to market I went and returned with 4 dozen oysters and it was decided to make Oyster Rockefeller , NBG got to grips with the shucking and cleaning of the shell, ( so no bits of shell were left with the oysters…….. Very Master Chef here). Actually Mrs. G7 commented that she had never heard of Oysters Rockefeller until she watched ” Master Chef, The Professionals” ( British Version, ) when one of the Skills test was to make them, one of the classics that these chefs, need to know.
Researching all things Oysters, I came up with as many variations of Oysters Rockefeller as there are cookery books on Oysters. For Starters, it is claimed that the original was created by a chef working in Antoines restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana, in the late 1900’s.Someone,dining there declared that they were as rich as Rockefeller! Not surprising really as a) New Orleans is on the Gulf coast of the USA, where Oysters, Shrimp ( read very large ones) , Crawfish and Soft shell crabs abound, and b) the home of good food in the USA, or should I say rich food, not necessarily all good, lots of fried food, but having said that, Oyster Po-Boys are one of my favourites.
So back to Oysters Rockefeller , the version outed on British master chef included a small shallot, cream, nutmeg and egg yolks. Others include chopped celery, bell peppers, spring onions, parsley, dry breadcrumbs, bacon, watercress, herbs such as marjoram, basil, black pepper, Herbsaint, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce. The three things that they have in common, are onions ( normal, shallots, or Spring ) spinach and of course Oysters!
The master chef version simmered the oysters in their juices for a very short period of time, though looking in my Louisianan books I find nothing of this, but as I have said, there are many options here.
So I would allow ( for four people) 4-6 oysters per person,
- 3 green onions chopped, 4 tablespoons butter, plus 4 0z soft butter,
- 1/2 pkt frozen spinach, ( defrosted and well drained) of course you can use fresh but you will have to cook and drain it before use.
- 2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs, I try to use the Japanese Panko breadcrumbs ( available in good grocery stores and Asian food markets,)
- Some bacon pieces cooked until crisp and cut into bits
- Dash of Tabasco and 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce.
- Some grated Parmesan ( optional)
Shuck the oysters, and clean the shells and make sure you have removed any bits of shell. Traditionally, an oyster knife is used along with a thick rubber glove or even better a steel mesh one ( as in suit of armour) as the last thing you want to do is to slice into the palm of your hand. However help is at hand for the more novice ” shucker”! I found a little device which is cheating but works well. I found it for about £3 in a fish shop, so if you love oysters , look out for one of these, no chance of ripping your hand apart here ( instructions come on the label)
Melt the 4 tabs butter and sauté the onions, add the spinach and cook for a minute or two to heat through. Add the breadcrumbs,bacon,Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce. Mix in the rest of the butter.Taste and adjust the seasoning to your taste.
Arrange the oysters shells on a baking tray so that they do not tip over. Put the oysters in the shells and put a teaspoon of filling on each and top with the grated Parmesan ( if using). Bake for 10 mins @ 450F/230C/Mark 8. Serve piping hot with warm crusty French bread.
Eldest daughter was eating oysters at the age of two, though I have to admit that she promptly threw up, but Hey Ho, she loves them now. Have not tried them on her brood as yet, though I suspect that” Truly Scrumptious” would love them. It is a pity that in the UK they are now fairly expensive, once upon a time they were the food of the poor, but now? Another joy of Oysters is that they can be grilled over charcoal and will open by themselves! Joy!And Enjoy!