The Southern dish’s namesake is oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, the richest man in the world at the time the dish was created, aptly named because of the richness of the sauce topping the oysters.
What are Oysters Rockefeller? They’re baked oysters on the half shell topped with spinach and a butter sauce. It’s a rich dish that’s great for special occasions like New Year’s eve or Valentine’s day. While I make this recipe in the oven it can easily be made on the grill as well.
This dish was created at Antoinette’s in New Orleans. It became an American alternative to the French classic, escargot – or “baked snails”. The Southern dish’s namesake is oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, the richest man in the world at the time the dish was created, aptly named because of the richness of the sauce topping the oysters.
Key Ingredients in This Recipe
Oysters – I like to use a medium oyster for this dish with a fairly shallow shell, like a Wellfleet or Beausoleil oyster. Find fresh oysters at gourmet seafood stores. Most places will shuck them and put them on ice for you if asked. If you go the “shuck it yourself” route, check out my guide here.
Panko – Rather than using Italian breadcrumbs I use Panko, Japanese breadcrumbs. Panko breadcrumbs make a great crust on fried foods and in this recipe, baked foods. Because they are lighter, they absorb less oil than other breadcrumbs, keeping the topping of the oysters Rockefeller crispier.
Spices – The crunchy spinach and cheese topping is seasoned with a combination of cayenne, paprika, salt and pepper. The mixture adds just a little kick and hint of spice.
Tarragon – This herb has a subtle licorice flavor and complements seafood very well. The flavor of fresh tarragon is much better and more aromatic though dried tarragon can be used if fresh is unavailable. In this recipe it’s used in combination with parsley.
How to Make Oysters Rockefeller
Arrange the shells on salt in a baking dish. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Loosen the oysters from the shell and set aside in a medium bowl. Arrange the rock salt in a baking dish and firmly press the shells into the salt.
Sauté shallots. In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add the butter and allow to melt. Add the shallots and sauté until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté an additional 15 seconds.
Make the filling mixture. Add the spinach, parsley, onions and tarragon and stir until the greens have wilted, about 4 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, cayenne, paprika, salt and pepper followed by the cream.
Add the oysters to the shell and top with mixture. Add the oysters back into the shells. Top with a spoonful of the greens mixture followed by the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese.
Bake the oysters Rockefeller. Bake until the breadcrumbs are lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Garnish with chives and serve immediately.
Other Recipes to Try
If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out some of these: