Like so many ingenious dishes (and cocktails) beloved throughout the world, the recipe for oysters Rockefeller was invented in New Orleans. It was here in 1899 at the iconic restaurant Antoine’s, that the chef Jules Alciatore created a dish that has become so famous, nearly four million orders of it have been served at this legendary Big Easy hot-spot.

Alciatore was the son of Antoine Alciatore, the restaurant’s founder. He came up with the recipe due to a shortage of French escargot in the city. When he swapped the snails for plump Gulf Shore oysters, he had an instant hit on his hands.

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No one knows for sure why the name Rockefeller is associated with this dish, but one story claims it was because a patron cried out, “These are as rich as a Rockefeller!” after tasting the recipe for the first time. The real reason is more likely because the green color of the topping symbolized the sizable wealth of the Rockefeller family.

The original recipe for Oysters Rockefeller included watercress instead of the spinach that now comprises the topping. The exact ratio of the ingredients remained a closely guarded secret that Alciatore refused to provide even from his deathbed. Today, the recipe is cherished in restaurants around the globe, but it tastes the best at Antoine’s, where hundreds of orders are placed for it each and every day since it was first invented over 100 years ago.

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How to Make Oysters Rockefeller:

1. Start with 24 oysters for a gathering of four people. Scrub the oysters shells clean using a scrub brush in order to remove any excess sand or debris. Pat the shells dry.

2. Pry open the oysters using a shucking knife. Be sure to do this over a clean bowl in order to collect the oyster liquor for use later on. Discard the top shell. Keep the oysters in a covered container in the refrigerator while you complete the next steps.

3. Preheat the oven to broil.

4. In a saute pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Saute 2 cups of finely sliced spinach leaves, 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley, 1/4 cup finely chopped onions until the onions are tender and aromatic.

5. Add 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon Pernod or Herbsaint and saute for three more minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with Tabasco sauce.

6. Spread a one-inch layer of rock salt on a lipped sheet tray or in a casserole dish. Sprink with water, and arrange the oysters in their shells on top of it.

7. Drizzle about a half teaspoon of the reserved oyster liquor over each oyster.

8. Spoon the spinach mixture on top of each oyster, distributing evenly between them. Broil until the spinach is bubbling and the edges of the oysters begins to just turn golden brown. This will take about four to five minutes but watch carefully to prevent burning.

9. Arrange on a platter. Sprinkle with finely chopped parsley, and serve while still piping hot with a bowl of lemon wedges.

Name Check

A Dozen Oysters You Should Know

Related Video: How to Shuck an Oyster

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Jody Eddy is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan. She has cooked at Jean Georges, The Fat Duck, and Tabla and is the former editor of Art Culinaire Magazine. Her most recent cookbook was "Cuba! Recipes and Stories From a Cuban Kitchen", published by Ten Speed Press. Her cookbook "North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland" was published by Ten Speed Press in 2014 and won the 2015 IACP Judge's Choice Award. She is the author of the James Beard nominated cookbook "Come In, We're Closed: An Invitation to Staff Meals at the World's Best Restaurants" and her upcoming book for Ten Speed, "The Hygge Life", will be published in November, 2017. She is writing a cookbook for W.W. Norton profiling the cuisine and food traditions of monasteries, temples, mosques and synagogues around the world which will be published in 2019 and a cookbook with the Food Network chef Maneet Chauhan profiling the cuisine of India via an epic train journey throughout the country. She writes for Travel+Leisure, Saveur, Food & Wine, The Wall Street Journal, Plate, and VICE, among others. She is the author of JodyEddy.com, leads culinary trend tours for food and beverage corporations in Iceland, Peru, Mexico, Ireland and Cuba and is the Vice President of Marketing, Partnerships and Events at Hop Springs, an 85 acre agritourism destination opening in Nashville in May, 2018.
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