We love eating Oysters Rockefeller for special occasions like Valentine's Day or New Year's Eve! There's something special about oysters blanketed in creamy spinach with bacon, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and topped with a crisp and buttery Ritz cracker crust. We specially love eating ours with a crisp white wine but hey, these are perfectly great on their own.
What are Oysters Rockefeller?
Simply put, Oysters Rockefeller consist of oysters on a half-shell that have been topped with a rich sauce of butter, spinach and herbs. They are then topped with bread crumbs and either baked or broiled. They were created in New Orleans at a restaurant called Antoinette's due to a shortage in escargot and soon they actually became the American version of escargot.
This aptly named oyster dish gets its name "Rockefeller" from John D. Rockefeller whom was the riches man in the world at that time. Its richness in taste and sauce reflects the richness of John D. Rockefeller.
Ingredients for Oysters Rockefeller
While Oysters Rockefeller tend to be something we eat for special occasions, the actual recipe is quite easy and you don't need many ingredients to make them. Here's your grocery list:
The Oyster: For this recipe we used Blue Point oysters that we got from our local Wegman's. The key here to picking the right oyster is to make sure it is as fresh as possible and to try to get the largest ones available with the deepest shells
The Filling: For the filling, we use homemade Creamed Spinach that we add chopped and cooked bacon to. If you haven’t already made the creamed spinach, make sure you leave about 20 minutes to make it prior to starting.
The Topping: The topping is essentially Ritz crackers that I crumble and add bacon fat, lemon zest, and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano to. The bacon fat helps to reinforce that salty bacon flavor while keeping the crust from drying out while the zest adds a nice zing to cut through the richness. The Parmigiano-Reggiano is there to add a lil funk and ensure that these oysters will be damn good!
How to Shuck a Oyster
Shucking an oyster is really not as hard or intimidating as it sounds! If you're not familiar with what shucking actually is, it's the process of opening the shell to reveal the meat inside of it and cutting it out of the shell. The two most important things with shucking oysters is safety and using fresh oysters. Fresh oysters are much easier to shuck than ones that have been sitting around for a while. If you simply can’t seem to get the oysters open, try steaming them slightly (1-2 minutes) to get the oyster to release its hold on the shell. Just make sure you do not overcook them.
Set up your station: Get an oyster shucking knife and a nice thick hand towel that to place on top of your cutting board or surface. The towel is there to prevent yourself from getting hurt in the event that the knife slips and an actual shucking knife is essential to not accidently break your kitchen knife.
Work the knife into the hinge: Once you have your station set up, you are going to find the base of the shell (the thin part) where the two shells are connected and insert the tip of the blade in between both shells. While simultaneously applying pressure on the blade pushing it into the shell, you are going to slightly twist your wrist and pop open the shell. To protect yourself, fold your sturdy towel in half and place the oyster inside the folded towel so that only the base where you are inserting the tip of the blade will go, is sticking out. Make sure that the blade is surrounded by the towel and that if you slip, the blade goes into the towel and not your hand.
Open the shell: You want to slide the knife between the shells, being careful not to mangle the oyster as you separate the shells. You will find that the oyster is connected to the top shell by a small muscle, to separate that, you will want to gently scrape the shell with the knife to remove the muscle. Once you do that, gently perform the same process on the bottom side of the shell and the oyster should come free.
Set the oyster and liquid aside: Once the oyster is free, pour both the oyster and its liquid into a cup or bowl and set it aside until you're finished shucking all of the oysters.
Clean your shells: After shucking them all, wash the shells, pick through the oysters to remove any remaining shells or grime, and
Putting them back together: Strain the oyster liquid through a fine-mesh strainer or coffee filter then resemble the oysters in their shells, finishing them with a hearty splash of the liquid from their shells.
Tips for making Oysters Rockefeller
Save the oyster liquid: When shucking the oysters, save the liquid that is trapped in the shell with the oyster, in a separate container and strain that through a fine-mesh strainer or coffee filter to then add back to the oysters when you assemble them. This will help reinforce the oyster flavor and also prevent the oyster from drying out.
Steam your oysters before shucking: If you are having a tough time shucking the oysters, try steaming them briefly for 1-2 minutes. The oyster will loosen its suction on the shell and the shells will start to open. Just make sure you don’t overcook them!
Use fresh herbs: Feel free to add chopped herbs such as parsley or chives to the breadcrumb mixture to add even more flavor.
You HAVE to give these a try. Cheers and eat well!
These Oysters Rockefeller stays true to its name with deep richness and an opulence of flavor. Blue point oysters blanketed in creamy spinach with bacon, parmigiano-reggiano, and topped with a crisp and buttery Ritz cracker crust.
¼ cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 cup of Ritz crackers (about 20 crackers) (crushed into crumbs)
The zest of 1 lemon
Begin by taking your 6 slices of bacon and laying them across your cutting board so that they lay perpendicular to you. Cut each strip into thin slices, working from right-to-left (unless you are left handed), until all the strips of bacon are now cut into thin strips about the thickness of a quarter.
Put a large saute pan on the stove and turn the heat on high. After about 20 seconds, add a splash of oil to the pan, followed by the cut bacon. Turn the heat down to medium and continue to cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until the bacon bits are fully cooked and have no uncooked-rubbery fat left (about 4-6 minutes).
Once the bacon is cooked, strain off the bacon fat (we will be using it so do not throw it away) and set both aside.
After the bacon is cooked, rinse your oysters with water to remove dirt and sediment and proceed to shuck each of your oysters. Refer to our "How to Shuck an Oyster" section to learn how.
Once the oysters are shucked, take the 12 deepest shells and rinse them out on both sides to ensure there is no dirt or grime remaining.
Once all the shells are cleaned, grab an adequately-sized sheet pan and place each of the 12 deepest shells on the pan with the inside showing.
Place one of the shucked oysters, along with a splash of their liquid, into each of the shells so that it looks similar to how the oyster looked before you removed them from their shell.
In a bowl, add the creamed spinach, followed by the cooked bacon bits from earlier and mix to thoroughly combine.
In another bowl, add the crushed ritz crackers followed by the lemon zest and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and mix to combine. Once combined, slowly stream in the bacon fat that was reserved from earlier and mix to evenly distribute.
Preheat your oven broiler to the lowest setting (about 425 F).
To assemble the oysters, add about 1 heaping tablespoon of the spinach and bacon mixture to each oyster (so that the spinach serves as a blanket covering the oyster in the shell), followed by enough of the breadcrumb mixture to fully cover the spinach mixture.
Once all of the oysters are assembled, bake them using your broiler setting only long enough to brown the breadcrumbs and heat the spinach mixture (about 5-6 minutes).
Once the breadcrumbs are a nice golden brown and the spinach is warm, remove the oysters from the oven and serve on a platter in their shells.
Serve with lemon on the side and enjoy.
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