Friday, December 18, 2009

Oysters: Shelled out

In a perfect world, oysters would come straight from the estuary on ice, quickly shucked, a pat of flavored butter put on the oyster-on-the-half-shell sitting on a bed of rock salt, then put in the oven at 500 degrees for 12-14 minutes, or until lightly browned and bubbling: the quintessential Oysters Rockefeller, a dish named simply for its richness.

Alas, time and place were not perfect last night. The oysters were from a jar. Not having any shells, what to do? Well, I'm here to say that baked in an au gratin dish, Oysters Rockefeller are only slightly less stunning than their individual selves, and make a sumptuous dinner served over white fluffy rice. I followed the traditional recipe from "The New Orleans Cookbook" (Knoft, 1975, 264 pages) by Rima and Richard Collin, but since they were being served as a main dish rather than an appetizer, I made a few substitutions, namely more spinach and less butter. Sorry I didn't take a photo of it; the aroma was overpowering and we were hungry.

Oysters Rockefeller casserole
Serves 2

8 ounces select oysters, drained
2 cups packed raw spinach (about 5 ounces)
1/2 stick of butter, softened
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/4 cup green onions
1 tablespoon minced celery
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons Pernod or Absinthe

Preheat oven to 500 (or the maximum recommended temperature for your au gratin dish; mine was 480 degrees). Cook the spinach in the microwave until wilted but still bright green. Drain and dump it in the food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until everything is small and well-blended.
Arrange the oysters in the bottom of the au gratin dish. Spoon the sauce over. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and lightly brown. Cool for 3-6 minutes. Serve over a bed of hot, fluffy rice.


  1. Dear Lori,
    We always have oyster stew on
    Christmas Eve, but after reading this recipe I decided to try Oysters Rockefeller, partly in honor of my Louisiana-born daughter. I doubled it to serve 5 - what a hit! This may be a new tradition in the Gottlob house. We are in Washington for the holiday - hope all went well at St. Paul's and that you and Jim have a blessed 12 days.


  2. Thanks, Jim and Vickie!

    Vickie, St. Paul's was very beautiful for Christmas and sorry you missed it (at least the sermons will be online, but too bad the "Once in David's Royal City" duet the Loach sisters did isn't). Hope to see you soon.