I know oysters are a food that one either loves or hates but I’m surprised by the number of people I’ve come across recently who don’t like them. I think if more people were introduced to oysters in a baked or cooked form they would find them a lot more palatable. This baked oyster dish, aptly named Rockefeller as it’s so rich, is a great introduction to the glory of oysters. A creamy sauce of shallots, bacon and spinach is spooned over the oysters which are then topped with breadcrumbs and cheese before being baked until golden and hot. My husband declared these his favourite way of eating oysters and I have to agree they are out of this world. These make a great appetiser with drinks or you can plate a few of them individually to serve as a starter, and even if you think you don’t like oysters I urge you to try these as they may just change your mind.
Ingredients – Makes 12 oysters
12 oysters shucked, for this recipe I prefer larger oysters
2 small rashers streaky bacon, very finely diced
1 large or 2 small shallots, finely chopped
¼ cup white wine or vermouth
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
1 clove garlic, finely grated
1 finely chopped anchovy fillet
½ cups cream
200g frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out – you can use fresh spinach but frozen works very well here
2 sprigs fresh tarragon, chopped
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pre-heat the oven to 190C. Cut the oyster away from the shell and place them in a bowl and set aside. Clean the shells well and place on a baking sheet. I like to crumple some foil on the tray to nestle the shells on which stops them from tipping over. Heat a medium skillet and when hot add the diced bacon and cook until crispy, remove and set aside leaving as much fat in the pan as possible.
In the same skillet melt butter over medium heat. Add shallots, season with salt and cook until tender. Stir in flour and cook for a minute. Add wine and cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Add garlic and anchovies, stir to combine. Season with salt. Add heavy cream and let cook for one minute. Stir in spinach, tarragon and reserved bacon. Cook until mixture thickens. If mixture seems too thick, add a little water or more cream to thin it out a slightly.
Place the oyster shells in the oven and bake until warm, about 2 minutes. In a medium bowl, mix together cheese, panko, breadcrumbs and olive oil until well combined, set aside. Spoon a small amount of the spinach mixture into each of the shells and top each with a whole oyster. Top with a little more of the spinach mixture and sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture. Transfer to the oven and bake until oysters are hot and the bread crumb topping is golden brown. If you like you can finish them off under a hot grill.