Oysters Rock-a-Fellow

posted by Al Matthews - 

My dog, Fellow, stood by me in the kitchen while I made this dish. I decided to name it after him. Good boy...

The original Oysters Rockefeller recipe is a closely guarded secret, created in 1899 at the famous New Orleans restaurant Antoine's. Jules Alciatore, the son of founder Antoine Alciatore, developed the dish when they had a shortage of escargot, substituting locally available oysters. Antoine's is still the only place in the world where you can be served the original Oysters Rockefeller recipe.

Search on line for Oysters Rockefeller, and you'll find hundreds of recipes that claim to be the real thing. Most of them use spinach in the dish, which Antoine's has said was not in the original recipe.

My version, Oysters Rock-a-Fellow, is a cheesier, gooier version than the original, which is heavy on the greens, but I think it's one you will enjoy. I use larger, meatier oysters like Wellfleets from Cape Cod or local Rhode Island oysters, but use what you like.

24 oysters, washed to remove grit 
2 cans beer (Lite Beer is fine) 
5 black peppercorns 
2 teaspoons salt 
2 garlic cloves

Scrub the oysters under cold water to get them clean.

In a large pot, pour in the beer, peppercorns, salt, and garlic cloves, along with enough cold water to fill the pot about halfway. Turn the heat on high and bring the pot to a boil.

The moment you reach a boil, turn the heat to medium and drop in 6 oysters, letting them bathe in the liquid for only 30 seconds. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and place them in a bowl to cool. If the oysters open, they've been in there too long! You want them to stay closed. Do the same with the rest of the oysters, 6 at a time. Once all the oysters have had their 30 seconds, move the oyster bowl to a cutting board. Discard the liquid in the pot.

Once the oysters have cooled enough for you to handle, remove the top shell off each one, carefully reserving the oyster liquor inside if you can. I do this by pouring Kosher salt on a sheet pan, and using the salt to keep the oysters propped up.

 

1/4 cup unsalted butter 
1 small onion, finely chopped 
1 garlic clove, finely chopped 
1/4 cup low-fat milk 
salt and pepper 
6 oz. mild cheddar cheese (the white one), grated 
6 oz. mozzarella, grated 
3 cups (tightly packed) fresh arugula, finely chopped, about a 5 oz. container 
Fine bread crumbs

 

In a sauce pan, melt the butter and then add the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent.

Add the milk, season with salt and pepper, and then add the arugula a little at a time, letting it wilt before adding more. Use all the arugula.

Once all the arugula is in the saucepan, sprinkle the cheese in a bit at a time, letting it melt, until you've used all the cheese.

Originally, I would try to spoon this gooey cheese on top of the oyster shells, but it was so sticky and stretchy, that it was too difficult to work with. Now, I pour the gooey cheese mix into a lasagna pan, smooth it out with a spatula, and place it in the fridge to cool. Then it becomes easy to cut to with a knife.

When you're ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut cubes of the cheese mix out and place one on each oyster. Top with breadcrumbs, and then bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the oysters come out golden and bubbly.

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