4.04.2015

The Shell Game

I love baked oyster dishes. Kilpatrick. New Orleans-style. Florentine. Gratinées. Rockefeller.

Even though I have gotten pretty good at shucking oysters, oysters in their shells are hard to come by deep in the Sonoran Desert.

Shucked and by the pint, I can find them in quite a few stores, and not just at holiday time. This is great if you want to make oyster stew, or stuffing for your turkey.

But for the baked oysters, I keep thinking, "If only I had some beautiful ceramic oyster shells..."

Sometimes, I actually forget the power of Google. However, one day, I typed in "ceramic oyster shells" into the search function and pressed enter.

And what to my wondering eyes should appear? Not Santa, but a long list of oyster shells.

Google divined that I wanted to see all the options, and showed me glass shells, metal shells, and - yes - beautiful ceramic shells.

Click. Click. Click. Enter credit card. Click. Shipping address. Click. Buy. Wait.

Several days later came a neatly packaged parcel from an Etsy dealer. Mia, at Silver Shell Ceramics, made these incredibly beautiful porcelain shells, that dont wobble on the plate, so now I can have all variety of oysters in the shell any time I want.

The joke was on me - the store only had oysters in the shell today!
I started with Oysters Rockefeller, because I hadn't had them in ages. I served them with Chardonnay, which was not a good match. I then tried Sauvignon Blanc, but that didn't work either. My final test was Champagne; the oysters made the bubbly taste like vinegar.

So I called my friends at The Provence WineZine and asked for a recommendation. Apparently, the Pastis in the oysters makes for a particularly difficult pairing. Their suggestion was a bottle of a Cotes de Provence rosé - a 2013 Château La Tour Sainte Anne. When I picked it up at the wine store, the manager said, "This is an incredible wine - very creamy." (For the results of this food and wine pairing, check out my post on The Provence WineZine, "Upgraded to FirstClass.")

For you history nerds out there, the name Oysters Rockefeller comes from New Orleans. The recipe was invented at Antoine's (it's secret recipe is still a secret), and the dish was named after John D. Rockefeller, then the richest man in the United States. I am not sure JDR ever had them, but the richness of the sauce was compared to his wealth.

Here is my version - I assure you that the amount of topping is perfect (even though it may seem like a lot!). It's rich, just like Mr. Rockefeller!

~ David

Oysters Rockefeller

2 cups loosely packed fresh baby spinach (3 ounces)
1/2 cup chopped chives
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
5 tablespoons panko dry breadcrumbs
4 teaspoons Pastis, or other licorice-flavored liqueur such as Pernod
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 pound rock salt - if using natural oyster shells
16 fresh shucked oysters (shells reserved, of you shucked them yourself)
additional butter, if using porcelain/ceramic/metal shells
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Position rack in top third of oven and preheat to 450°F. Process spinach, chives, butter, breadcrumbs, Pastis, hot sauce, salt, and pepper in a mini food processor. Process until well blended, scraping down the sides occasionally. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover; chill.)

If using natural shells, pour rock salt over large baking sheet to depth of 1/2 inch. Arrange oysters in shells atop rock salt.

If using porcelain/ceramic/metal shells, butter the insides lightly. Place one shucked oyster in each mold and place them on a baking sheet.

Top each oyster with 1 tablespoon spinach mixture. Sprinkle with a little cheese. Bake until spinach mixture browns on top, about 10-12 minutes.

Serves 4.

You can also use small ramekins to make these, and even larger ramekins of you put several oysters in each.



24 comments:

  1. I have never had Oysters (horrors, right?) but if I was to try them the first time, I'd love to have them made this way. I suppose because I didn't grow up with them and really, have never had them served to me, so it's just one of those things. Maybe I need to be a bit more proactive!

    I love that you found your oyster shells! I know the feeling of wishing to have something in particular and then the joy of finding it within minutes, online!

    Lovely post, as always!

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    1. You really need to give them a try, Christina! While I will eat them raw in a social setting (social pressure, eh?), I prefer them cooked. If you haven't had the, this is a good way to start. Thanks for your kind comment!

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  2. Oh wow, wow, wow! Those ceramic oyster shells, woot!!!!? Love them! Do please tell where you found them, David. I love oysters, but have not tried them this way. They sound good. Happy Easter my friend xo

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    1. Hi Liz, I am glad you found the source for the shells in my post. They are really gorgeous and I feel very lucky!

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  3. I've been meaning to make Oysters Rockefeller for a very long time now, but I always seem to forget. And I'm with you on the baked oysters. I love them almost any old way.

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    1. I think they are so old-fashioned, John, that people forget about them all the time. I am hoping they make a revival!

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  4. Those little dishes are beautiful. Much more elegant than the large plate variety with an indentation. I am a fresh oyster fiend. But recently I went to Tomales Bay (http://www.sunset.com/travel/california/bountiful-tomales-bay) where I tasted grilled oysters. That experienced changed me. The Marshall Store will astound. I am not exaggerating, the oysters are that good. So until I can go there again (which will be next month) I've been looking for new ways to eat oysters (other than raw) and will try your Rockefeller (if you'll send me those shells to serve them in). GREG

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    1. Thanks, Greg - I love the shells, too. Will have to get to Tomales Bay and The Marshall Store next time I am in NoCal.

      I have had several requests to share the ceramic shells. I thin Mia and Silver Shell is going to be overwhelmed!

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  5. PS I just made Ken read this post and he says to try these oysters with Chablis. It's flinty like the bubbly you chose and will pair nicely. GREG

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    1. Thanks to Ken - I will definitely try a Chablis next time. I have a feeling these are going to become a regular around here...

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  6. I adore the ceramic oyster shells. How beautiful!! And I have many a fond memory of eating Oysters Rockefeller at Commander's Palace. Thank you for this recipe!

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    1. Thanks, Kirsten! It would be fun to taste-test all the different Oysters Rockefeller in NOLA!

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  7. It looks and sounds amazing! :)

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    1. Thanks, Linda! And thanks for stopping by Cocoa & Lavender!

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  8. Me too, I love oysters and during summertime here we get them served at the beach, fresh and with just a little lime juice added.
    Your variation looks divine, must try it out ASAP.
    The pics are beautiful and the porcelain shells are very elegant.

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    1. Thanks, Daniela - I feel so lucky to have found those shells! Oysters at the beach are the best - fresh and tasting like the sea!

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  9. When my daughter married, she won a wedding at the Rainbow Room, in Rockefeller Center, NYC…and they served Oysters Rockefeller. I always thought they were first served in NYC! Live and learn!
    David, I love your beautiful porcelain shells…quite elegant! Have a good weekend!

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    1. Wow, Kathy! That is quite a prize! I am sure the wedding was beautiful, and I can see why you thought Oysters Rockefeller would have been created there.

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  10. Great buy, especially because you make such delicious looking recipes with oysters (which I love dearly but can no longer eat due to an allergy... sniffle)

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    1. Thanks, Fiona! I am so sorry about your allergy. I think that would be worse (but easier to navigate) than my garlic allergy! The good news is that the shells can be used for so many things!

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  11. what...can you believe this we never knew there were ceramic oyester shells...these shells look so beautiful...perfect for serving starters..and delicious oyester dish...elegant food clicks as always,thanks :-)

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    1. Thanks, friends! Your kind comments always make me smile!

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  12. Gorgeous post! Your preparation in those ceramic oyster shells makes for a beautiful presentation. I have never made them and really hope to do so now! I loved your pairing post, too, on Provence WineZine!

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    1. Our visiting friends just bought several bottles of the Château La Tour Sainte Anne for their visit to Tucson. I can't wait to hear how they like it!

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