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National Oysters Rockefeller Day – January 10

National Oysters Rockefeller Day 

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Today is National Oysters Rockefeller Day. This New Orleans (1899) recipe remains a popular restaurant appetizer throughout the United States and is served as a brunch item in the South.

What is Oysters Rockefeller?

Oyster Rockefeller consists of oysters on the half-shell that have been topped with a rich sauce of butter, parsley, and other green herbs, and breadcrumbs, then baked or broiled. Lemon wedges are the typical garnish.

Though the original sauce recipe is a secret, it includes a purée of a number of green vegetables that may include spinach. Similar versions of the dish have proliferated in New Orleans, with none noted as an accurate duplicate.

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Origin & Trivia

Oysters Rockefeller was created in 1899 at the New Orleans restaurant Antoine’s by Jules Alciatore, son of founder Antoine Alciatore. Jules developed the dish due to a shortage of escargot, substituting the locally available oysters. The recipe remains unchanged, with an estimated three and a half million orders having been served.

Chef Alton Brown states in the “Shell Game” episode of his Food Network series Good Eats that Alciatore took his recipe to the grave and any version since is merely an assumption.

While many achieve the sauce’s trademark green color simply using spinach, Antoine’s chefs have repeatedly denied the dish contains it.

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A 1986 laboratory analysis by William Poundstone in Bigger Secrets indicated its primary ingredients were parsley, pureed and strained celery, scallions or chives (indistinguishable in a food lab), olive oil, and capers.

The dish was named Oysters Rockefeller after John D. Rockefeller, the then wealthiest American, for its extreme richness. It consists of oysters on the half-shell topped with a green sauce and bread crumbs, then baked or broiled.

Oyster Paisley Recipe

Oyster Paisley Recipe
My spin on the appetizer Oyster Rockefeller.
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Ingredients
  1. 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
  2. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  3. 2 shallots, fine dice
  4. 2 cups fresh spinach, firmly packed
  5. 2 oz. Pernod or Anisette
  6. Salt & pepper to taste
  7. 1 dash Tabasco or equivalent
  8. 2 dozen Oysters
  9. Lemon wedges to garnish
  10. Paisley Sauce
  11. 1 cup heavy cream
  12. ½ cup inexpensive sparkling wine or champagne
  13. 1 shallot, fine dice
  14. 1 tbsp. Tarragon, fresh
  15. 2 tsp cracked black peppercorn
  16. 2 oz. aged Gouda, grated*
Instructions
  1. Melt butter over medium heat add 2 diced shallots then cook until translucent. Add garlic, spinach, liqueur, salt, pepper and Tabasco and cook until spinach is wilted then set aside.
  2. Paisley Sauce – In a medium sauce pan, reduce cream, one diced shallot and peppercorns by half. Add champagne or sparkling wine and reduce again by half. Continue to reduce until sauce will easily coat the back of a spoon. Add Tarragon at the very end. If you want your sauce thicker continue to reduce as desired
  3. To Finish: Equally top 2 dozen oysters with spinach mixture, then divide sauce equally on top of each. Top with aged grated Gouda and broil until brown, serve on plate with decorative doilies or rock salt. Garnish with lemon wedges. You may get more creative with garnishment if you wish.
Notes
  1. * Aged Gouda from Holland is firmer than your local grocery store selections, though not as easy to grate as Parmigiano-Reggiano. Try Beemster classic aged Gouda that is the dairy world’s equivalent of Rembrandt or Van Gogh. It has been around for over 800 years and can be purchased for a lot less than you’d expect to pay.
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