Oysters Rockefeller is the perfect 'special occasion' appetizer. This truly has the 'wow' factor. Have your local fish market shuck the oysters for you for additional ease. Serve on coarse salt for a beautiful presentation. And don't worry about the anise-flavored liqueur, it doesn't overpower at all, and adds a wonderful depth. Amazing!
¼cupPernod liqueur or other anise-flavored liqueur, such as Herbsaint
1tbsphot sauceie, Tobasco
¼tspblack pepperfreshly ground
¾cupPanko bread crumbsdivided
12oysterson the half shell, discarding the top shell for each oyster
Coarse saltsuch as 'rock' or coarse sea salt (about 4 cups)
MAKE THE TOPPING
Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a medium-sized pot.
Add the spinach and cook until very tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. Drain the spinach in a colander set over a large bowl and reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Cool the spinach in an ice bath, or let sit until cool enough to handle, and then finely chop and set aside.
Melt the butter (1 stick) in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the onion and cook until starting to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 1 minute.
Add the reserved spinach water and bring to a boil.
Add the chopped spinach, liqueur, hot sauce, salt (½ tsp), and pepper (¼ tsp). Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the mixture reduces slightly, about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and mix in the ½ cup bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese (¼ cup).
Meanwhile, make the bread crumb topping by melting the 2 tablespoons of butter in a small pan. Add the extra garlic (1 minced clove), and saute for 1 minute. Mix in the ¼ cup of extra bread crumbs. Remove from heat.
PREPARE THE OYSTERS
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Spread a ¼-inch layer of the coarse salt on a large baking sheet, as well as your serving platter.
Arrange the oysters on the baking sheet and top with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the spinach mixture.
Top each with a pinch of the bread crumb topping mixture.
Bake until slightly browned on top and sauce is bubbling at the edges of the oysters, about 20 minutes. After about 8 minutes, loosely cover the oysters with a piece of foil, to prevent the breadcrumbs from burning.
Let oysters cool for a few minutes. Using tongs or a spatula, carefully transfer the warm oysters to the salt-covered platter. Serve at once!
We get our oysters from Whole Foods. They will shuck them for you and keep them on ice. We don't recommend using baby spinach for this recipe. It will get too stringy and not a good consistency once blanched. Mature fresh spinach can usually be found bunched together in the produce section of most well-stocked markets. If you can't find fresh, then go with frozen. Let thaw, and then squeeze the excess water from it. The Pernod, or any anise-flavored liqueur, adds a hint of licorice taste to the oysters. Not overpowering at all, but so good! Decent substitutes for the liqueur are white wine, absinthe, vodka, or fresh lemon juice.The spinach mixture and breadcrumb topping can be made up to 2 days in advance. Oysters Rockefellers are definitely best served warm, however, they'll still be delicious at room temperature. Don't let them sit at room temperature for more than 1 hour.