Oysters Rockefeller

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Oysters Rockefeller was created in 1899 by a chap called Jules, son of the founder of Antoine’s restaurant in New Orleans, and named after John D. Rockefeller, then America’s richest man, because of its rich sauce. Antoine Alciatore fled to New Orleans after two frustrating years trying to open restaurants in New York. But April Bloomfield, my good chum from the Midlands, has made New York her home. Her Spotted Pig, in the city’s Greenwich Village, is one of my top culinary watering holes in the world. This is her Oysters Rockefeller.

Ingredients

  • 700g/lb spinach
  • 10g/½oz butter
  • 2 tablespoons diced shallots
  • ¾ teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • ¾ teaspoon plain flour
  • 100ml/4fl oz double cream
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Grated zest of ½ a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2—3 dried pequin chillies, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 12 large Island Creek oysters (or any large briny oysters)

For the Topping

  • 50g/2oz fresh breadcrumbs
  • 25g/1oz grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 knobs of soft lemon butter

Method

Blanch the spinach in salted boiling water, then drain and refresh in ice-cold water. Carefully press all the water out of the spinach, using a clean tea towel. This should yield about 125g/oz, half a cup or so, of cooked spinach. Chop the spinach nice and fine and set aside.

Melt the butter in a small pan, then add the shallots and garlic and cook gently until softened. Add the flour and cook until golden brown. Add the cream and ¼ teaspoon of sea salt and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and add the lemon zest.

Put the spinach into a bowl, add the cream mixture and gently mix together. Add the Parmesan, chilli, lemon juice and ½ teaspoon of sea salt. Check and add more seasoning if necessary.

Preheat your grill. Open the oysters and place them in their half shells in an ovenproof dish or grill pan.

Place approximately ¾ teaspoon of the spinach mixture on top of each oyster.

Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and Parmesan, dot with the butter, and place under the grill until golden brown.

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