Oysters Rockefeller: a New Years Treat

Oysters are one of my favorite foods—they're good for you, light and refreshing, and go great with a craft beer. I usually have them on the half shell at least once or twice a week, but sometimes I get ambitious and make “Oysters Rockefeller”. The below recipe was first published in 2009 when we were publishing Community Vine, an online local news magazine, and it’s something of an Internet ‘hit’, with about 5,000 reads. I have to say—I’ve had Oysters Rockefeller at some of the top restaurants in NYC and Boston, and I like my recipe the best…it’s quick and easy and most importantly, tastes great. All the recipe quantities are approximations—you can vary the ratios to suit your preferences.

If you don’t know how to shuck oysters, or where to get them, here are some helpful hints:

•    Shucking oysters—you need an oyster knife, which is available in any kitchen supply store and some department stores. An oyster knife is more a tool than a knife. It has a point, but no sharp edge—rather it’s concave for leverage. You insert the point into the place where the bivalves meet, wiggle it around, and the shell pops open. Once the shell starts to open, slide the knife along the inside of the shell to insure the shell comes apart cleanly. Then wipe the knife to clean it, and run it under the oyster to detach it from the shell. After you get the hang of it, it’s very quick. A Kevlar glove is optional, but I use one on my left hand to hold the oyster and avoid poking myself with the shell. If the oyster is fresh, they'll be a lot of seawater in the shell. You might even find a small crab inside the shell.....if so, just remove it. It's not uncommon.

An oyster knife and Kevlar glove

•    Where to get them--Oysters vary in price and quality dramatically, but strangely price isn’t directly related to quality when buying fresh oysters. It’s like buying fish—the fresher the fish, the less it costs wholesale, because plentiful fish equals both cheaper and fresher fish. You can buy farm raised oysters and ocean (wild) oysters, and both are fine. I usually purchase ocean oysters because at the right place they tend to be cheaper and very fresh. However, farm raised are just as good and are more consistent—that’s often what you’ll get at a high end restaurant. Locally, if you happen to live near Westminster, MA, there is a seafood establishment called S. S. Lobster that sells wholesale to the public. There you can get ‘right out of the ocean’ Wellfleet, Blue Point, and Plymouth Rock oysters from $.65 to $.85 each. Virginia oysters are $.50 each, but not as fresh or good. Similarly, a local restaurant, The Angler, sells some exceptionally good farm raised oysters for $1.25 each….I buy from them less frequently due to the price difference, but they too are excellent if you want to splurge. A price of $1.25 an oyster is the norm…..$.65 for a fresh oyster is a great find. Of course the cheapest and freshest oysters are those you gather yourself, but that's another story.

 

The Recipe:

Ingredients

As many fresh oysters as you’d like (we’ll say 12)

1 cup chopped fresh spinach

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1 heaping teaspoon of oregano

1 heaping teaspoon of chopped bacon or bacon bits

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

A few dashes hot sauce (Tabasco)

1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Process

1.    Shuck the oysters, leaving them in the bottom shell and placing them on a cookie sheet or baking stone. Make sure the sheet or stone has edges to prevent juice/salt water from running off inside the oven
2.    Preheat oven to 450
3.    Mix olive oil and Tabasco sauce together in a bowl (cereal bowl size)
4.    Add spinach first, then everything but parmesan cheese into the bowl and mix until all is coated in olive oil and well mixed
5.    Place a spoonful or so on to of each oyster, in the shell, being careful not to have too much fall off onto the cookie sheet
6.    Place in oven for about 10 – 12 minutes
7.    After 10 minutes remove oysters from oven, and top with parmesan cheese
8.    Cook another 2 minutes to melt the cheese
9.    Let cool a few minutes, then serve

A perfect oyster