Simon Hopkinson's Oysters Rockefeller
I've always been intrigued by Oysters Rockefeller, described by the great Simon Hopkinson as "the best hot oyster dish I know". Here's his recipe.
"Why oysters Rockefeller is quite so good lies in the perfectly chosen ingredients which marry so well with the unique taste of an oyster" Hopkinson writes. "The transformation from the natural, raw oyster (delicious in itself, of course) to the warmed oyster (never too hot) is critical. Buttery creamed spinach, tarragon, parsley, the essential pastis (Pernod, here) and softened shallot and celery. The aniseed flavours have always been key; pastis added to creamed spinach, for instance, absolutely makes that particular dish sing out loud."
12 rock oysters, shucked
FOR THE ROCKEFELLER PURÉE:
250g young spinach leaves
10g parsley leaves
100g unsalted butter, softened
1 large stick of celery, peeled and chopped
1 small shallot, chopped
the leaves from 3–4 sprigs of tarragon
several shakes of Tabasco sauce
¼ tsp salt
a handful of fresh breadcrumbs
Fill a pan with water and bring to the boil. Plunge in the spinach and parsley, bring back to the boil then drain in a colander. Immediately refresh in iced water until cold. Squeeze as dry as possible between two hands until no more liquid seeps out. Set aside.
Melt 25g of the butter in a small frying pan, gently fry the celery and shallot until softened then add the Pernod, allowing it to bubble a little. Cool briefly, then scrape into the bowl of a small food processor. Add the cooked spinach and parsley, tarragon, Tabasco, salt and the remaining 75g of butter. Purée until very smooth and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7.
Tip off any excess juice from the opened oysters and, using a small palette knife, completely cover each oyster with a generous coating of the spinach purée. Strew a baking dish (or deep metal pan) with coarse salt, to allow the oysters to sit neatly. Distribute a fine showering of breadcrumbs over the oysters and bake in the oven on the top shelf. Cook for 8–10 minutes or until the breadcrumbs have become slightly toasted. Serve without delay.
What to drink: Not the easiest dish to match with wine. I asked Simon for his view and his suggested a white Rhone ("Fonsalette would be very special, if one can afford it." My own choice, I think, would be a brut nature style of champagne - i.e. one with no or a very low dosage or a premier cru Chablis though I'm sure a Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé or other minerally style of Sauvignon Blanc would be fine."
This recipe comes from Simon Hopkinson Cooks which is published by Ebury Press at £25. Photograph © Jason Lowe.
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