Relaxing in the afternoon, eating Oysters Rockefeller with a dash of Tabasco. Ahhhhhh, Life Is Good!
Bethlehem’s McCarthy’s Red Stag Pub and Whiskey Bar / Restaurant’s Oysters & Guinness Street Festival has become an annual event for us as a family. This is the 4th year it has been held and we’ve been to 3 out of those four. 2020, did we do anything that year? Well, let’s just say… I don’t think any of us were being very “social” that year.
2021, a year of almost normalcy? We decided that we were hungry and did not want to be on a “waitlist” just to be seated on their “Patty-O.” Instead, we were graciously and immediately swept inside to a “Snuggle Booth” to enjoy our Oysters Rockefeller with Guinness. I opted for a cosmopolitan.
As we enjoyed our annual “fest,” my focus that day was…Oysters Rockefeller!
“oysters spread with a mixture of spinach, butter, seasonings, and breadcrumbs and baked on the half shell”
Some Food History: Oysters Rockefeller was created in 1899 at Antoine’s Restaurant (1840) in New Orleans, Louisiana. Jules Alciatore, the son of the founder, Antoine, is credited with this honor.
“Jules Alciatore is known as a pioneer in the art of cooking oysters (as they were rarely cooked before this time). According to legend, it is said that a customer exclaimed with delight after eating this dish, “Why, this is as rich as Rockefeller!”“whatscookingamerica.net
Jules Alciatore took over the business in 1899. There was a shortage of French snails and as well, not as much interest in the delicacy. Jules wanted to use something local that could be acquired easily. He ended up choosing oysters. He worked with the snail recipe from his father and adapted it in order to use the more abundant gulf oysters.
Rockefeller was used for the dish’s name because of how “rich” the taste was and how the dish’s green color brought about the thought of greenbacks. Jules wanted his dish to represent something that was the “richest in the world.” (whatscookingamerica.net) John D. Rockefeller was a name that was known for being of great position and wealth at the time.
In 1980, the great-great-grandson of Jules Antoine, Roy F. Guste, Jr., Fifth Generations Proprietor, wrote in his book, Antoine’s Restaurant Cookbook… “The sauce is basically a puree of a number of green vegetables other than spinach.” I wonder if he shares the actual recipe in his family cookbook?
OK…to date, never being to New Orleans to savor the delicacies of that famous culinary cuisine, where do I go from here to search for a recipe that compares?
Online, I discovered the fantastic source of Jules Antoine’s great-great-great grandson, Roy F. Guste, Jr. and his cookbook from 1980 – Antoine’s Restaurant Cookbook! Sadly, no recipes were to be found without purchasing the book so…, a cookbook filled with “History and Legends of Favorite Foods – Food History,” Linda Stradley’s cookbook, What’s Cooking America shared Jules Alciatores’ Oyster Rockefeller’s recipe.
Now, to be honest, I have not had the privilege of making Oysters Rockefeller for our family as of yet… but, I’m believing in the above reputable sources of having it resulting in accolades of “This is delicious!” It will definitely be on our New Year’s Eve “Make a Wish Fest” this year! If you make some before me… please share your thoughts below! Enjoy!
Here’s a recipe from What’s Cooking America: https://whatscookingamerica.net/seafood/oystersrockefeller.htm
OYSTERS ROCKEFELLER – Jules Alciatore created in 1899
Servings: 6 or 36 appetizers
36 fresh live oysters on the half shell
6 Tablespoons butter
6 Tablespoons fresh spinach leaves, finely minced
3 Tablespoons onion, finely minced
3 Tablespoons parsley, finely minced
5 Tablespoons bread crumbs, homemade
Tabasco sauce to taste
1/2 teaspoon Herbsaint or Pernod
1/2 teaspoon salt
Lemon wedges for garnish
Using an oyster knife, pry open the oyster shells, then remove the oysters.
Discard the top shells; scrib and dry the bottom shells. Drain the oysters, reserving the oyster liquor.
In a large sauce pan, melt the butter; add spinach, oion parsley, bread crumbs, Tabasco Sauce, Herbsaint and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Press the spinach mixture through a sieve or food mill; let cool. Mixture may be made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to use.
Preheat oven broiler. Line an ovenproof plate or platter with a layer of rock salt about 1-inch deep(moisten th salt very slightly). Set oysters in the rock salt, making sure they are level.
Place a little of the reserved oyster liquor on each oyster. Spoon an equal amount of the prepared spinach mixture over each oyster and spread to the rim of the shell.
Broil approximately 5 minutes or until the edges of the oysters have curled and the topping is bubbling. Watch carefully.
Garnish the plates or platter with the parsley sprigs and the lemon wedges. Serve immediately.
Added Recipe Notes:
It is best to use small oysters for this recipe. The oysters themselves(not the shell) should be no more than 1 to 1 1/2″ in diameter. Any variety of oysters will work; just make sure the oysters you choose are as fresh as possible, still alive, and tightly closed.
A fun “Throwback” photo — September 2018, the very first Oysters & Guinness Street Festival… Bob enjoying his raw oysters that year, on Bethlehem’s Walnut Street curb. The people to his left were also customers of the pub that year. Bob had fun chatting with them & their dog. Robin captured the moment with this photograph! It brings back smiles…