Oysters Rockefeller is simple to prepare but so impressive! It’s a perfect dish for Christmas, New Year’s Eve, or Valentine’s Day.
We’re big oyster fans. Raw, baked, plain or with toppings, we never go too long without enjoying them. This Oysters Rockefeller recipe is one of our favorite ways to prepare them.
I usually prepare these on New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day, although I’ve been known to serve them as a surprise treat throughout the year when I can get my hands on good-quality oysters without too much trouble. Normally I have to drive an hour to get some really good, fresh oysters, but occasionally I’ll find them at Wegmans for a good price.
If I’m serving these with other appetizers, I usually make Beef Wellington Bites and Cranberry Pecan Cheese Balls or Baked Camembert. If they’re the starter to a meal, I serve them with either boneless prime rib or braised beef short ribs. All of these recipes are easy (the beef wellington bites are a bit more fussy but still not difficult) and make for a truly fantastic meal. You can also make this gorgeous cranberry cake for dessert!
What is Oysters Rockefeller?
Oysters Rockefeller are baked oysters with a delicious topping. It’s a fairly simple dish to prepare, despite its sophistication. Oysters on the half shell are topped with a butter sauce, finely chopped spinach, and breadcrumbs, then baked or broiled. The original recipe called for fresh herbs, and they can be used in place of the spinach.
Who invented Oysters Rockefeller?
Oysters Rockefeller was created at the famous New Orleans restaurant Antoine’s in 1889. The restaurant was founded in 1840 by Antoine Alciatore and is one of the oldest family-run restaurants in the United States.
Antoine’s son, Jules, created the dish when access to escargot was scarce. Although there are several theories on why it’s called Oysters Rockefeller, the most common is that it was named after John D. Rockefeller, due to the dishes richness.
What do you need to make Oysters Rockefeller?
- unsalted butter
- fresh spinach
- grated Parmesan
- crumbled bacon
- Panko breadcrumbs
- raw oysters, shucked
- lemon juice (from wedges, for serving)
The ingredients above are everything you’ll need to make this recipe. You might notice that I don’t call for salt which is unusual for the majority of my recipes. I find these to be salty enough from the parmesan and bacon, but feel free to add a small amount if you prefer.
A few other additions you could consider are black pepper, hot sauce, sliced green onion (scallion), chopped parsley, or even celery leaves. I enjoyed some in a restaurant once that used watercress, although I’ve never used it at home (yet). I’ve even seem some topped with crab!
Pernod is an anise flavored liqueur that makes an interesting substitute for the vermouth.
You can also add a small amount of heavy whipping cream at the same time as the spinach; it will cook down as you continue cooking. I usually add about a quarter cup or so.
How long will fresh oysters keep before they should be consumed?
The fresher a raw oyster is, the better it will taste. As long as they’re kept very cold – not frozen – in the refrigerator or on a bed of ice (like in a cooler), you’ll have a few weeks from their harvest date before they must be consumed.
But remember that’s the harvest date, not the date you purchased them. Of course, it’s best if those dates are the same, which means you’re lucky enough to live in a place with access to very fresh seafood.
Whenever I purchase oysters and don’t know the date they were harvested, I always use them within 1-2 days. I do this both to make sure they’re fresh but also because they’ll taste that much better.
How do you make Oysters Rockefeller?
You’ll need shucked oysters on the half shell, or you can shuck the oysters yourself. Next you’ll make a simple topping with shallots, garlic, butter, spinach, and a bit of cheese in a skillet. Top the oysters with the filling then sprinkle on some buttery breadcrumbs.
Place them on a baking sheet and either bake or broil them. Grilled oysters made this way are fantastic, too.
If you buy oysters that haven’t been shucked, here’s a great video tutorial from Fine Cooking on how to do so. I also shared the video below if you prefer not to watch it on YouTube.
I’ll shuck them myself if I’m making them as a surprise, but fortunately, Rob is an expert oyster shucker so I leave that step to him most of the time. You can also purchase oysters that have already been shucked and skip this step entirely.
If you want a truly easy way to prepare these without shucking or even an oyster shell, you can place fresh oysters in a shallow dish and top it all with the mixture, then bake it. It doesn’t look quite as fancy but it’s just as delicious!
This Oysters Rockefeller recipe is simple, sophisticated and will show your loved ones how much you appreciate them! Every time I serve this dish, my people get pretty excited which always makes my heart – and tastebuds – happy.
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, divided
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
- 2 tbsp Vermouth
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 2 slices cooked and crumbled bacon (optional)
- 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 24 raw oysters, shucked
- 4 lemon wedges
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup of the butter and, when it's melted, add the shallots. Saute for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and saute for one more minute, stirring frequently.
- Add the chopped spinach and Vermouth to the pan and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan cheese (and crumbled bacon, if using).
- Melt the remaining butter and mix it with the breadcrumbs.
- Place the oysters in their half shell on a sheet pan or baking dish. Top the oysters evenly with the spinach mixture, then sprinkle the breadcrumbs on the top.
- Bake for about 8-10 mlnutes, or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and the filling is hot. Serve immediately with the lemon wedges on the side.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 496Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 198mgSodium: 594mgCarbohydrates: 29gNet Carbohydrates: 28gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 34g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.