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
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.