Lent begins on March 5, 2014 with the arrival of Ash Wednesday. Before that, many nations celebrate Carnevale or Mardi Gras, which translates into Fat Tuesday. Dining with the Saints author and chef, Erica De Mane has presented us with a recipe for Oyster’s Rockefeller, invented in New Orleans to celebrate this holiday before the Lenten fasts begin.
Oysters Rockefeller is a simple to cook but quite extravagant dish. You don’t see it around much anymore except in New Orleans, where it was created. It’s especially popular during Mardi Gras where every New Orleans restaurant serves their version. The original came from Antoine’s, which opened in 1840 and is still going strong.
I love this dish, and I do make it at home for special occasions. It’s very rich, which is why it’s named after John D. Rockefeller, the richest American at the time it dish was invented.
What you need are oysters on the half shell, spinach, butter, a splash of Pernod (it was originally most likely made with Absinth), and a few other incidental ingredients.
Here’s how you do it:
(Serves 5 to 6 as a appetizer)
3 dozen oysters, on the half shell
2 shallots, finely diced
3/4 stick unsalted butter
A large bag of fresh spinach (about 9 ounces), well chopped
A large handful of flat-leaf parsley, Leaves chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
A splash of Pernod
½ cup grated parmigiano cheese
About 2 pounds kosher salt
A handful of Chervil sprigs
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
In a large skillet, sauté the shallot in the butter until softened. Add the spinach and parsley and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper, and add the splash of Pernod, letting it boil away. Remove from the heat and stir in the parmigiano.
Spread the kosher salt into two large baking dishes (something you would use for lasagna). Press the oysters down into the salt. Fill each one with a tablespoon or so of the spinach mixture.
Bake, uncovered, until the oysters are just tender, about 6 minutes. Garnish with the chervil. Serve hot.
Buon Fete from Antoine’s!
Dining with the saints is written by Erica De Mane. To see more of her recipes, go to her blog at http://www.ericademane.com