By Chef John Ash
Invented at Antoine’s in New Orleans in 1899, the dish was named after John D. Rockefeller, the richest American at the time, for the richness of the sauce. Antoine’s has kept the original recipe secret but all kinds of interpretations exist. Basically it includes a rich cream sauce with spinach and other greens and flavored with Pernod or anisette. This version omits the rich sauce but is still full of flavor. This would be wonderful with Sonoma-Cutrer Les Pierres Chardonnay.
Total Time 45 minutes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Difficulty Level Medium
24 small to medium oysters
2 c gently packed young spinach leaves
1-1/2 c gently packed watercress, large stems removed or more spinach
1/3 c gently packed celery leaves
5 tbsp butter
1 oz Pernod or other licorice flavored liqueur
Salt to taste
Drops of lemon juice and your favorite hot sauce to taste
3/4 c freshly grated parmesan cheese
Shuck the oysters discarding the flat top shells. Drain the oysters and strain their liquor and refrigerate both until ready to cook. Wash deep shell inside and out and set aside.
Blanch the spinach, watercress and celery leaves in lightly salted, boiling water for 30 seconds until wilted. Strain and rinse thoroughly in cold water to stop the cooking and set the bright green color.
Add the greens to a food processor along with the green onions and pulse to chop very finely (or can be done by hand).
Melt butter in a skillet over moderate heat and add chopped greens and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add the strained liquor, Pernod and season to your taste with salt, drops of lemon juice and pepper sauce and cook until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a shallow baking pan or cookie sheet with 1/3 inch or so rock or coarse salt and press reserved oyster shells into the salt to keep them upright.
Place an oyster in each and divide the green sauce among them. Top with parmesan and bake until sauce is bubbly and cheese is lightly browned, about 8 minutes.