Scott Crain’s Oysters Rockefeller recipe.
This recipe was sent to me by Scott Crain, who is the executive chef at a ritzy private golf club in Rhode Island. Scott is one of the finest chefs I know, and any time he sends me a recipe, I follow it to a T. Following is his interpretation of a classic dish, oysters Rockefeller.
2 dozen oysters, shucked
8 ounces bacon, diced. (Scott recommends North Country Smokehouse nitrate-free bacon from New Hampshire)
1/4 cup diced shallots
3 tablespoons minced garlic
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ounce Pernod or Sambuca
1/2 pound shredded Swiss or Gruyere cheese
2-3 cups chiffonade baby spinach (sliced in thin strips)
1/4 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise
Lemon Butter Cracker Crumble
2 sleeves of Ritz or similar crackers, crushed
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons fresh dill, chopped
Shuck the oysters and make sure they are free of any shell matter, retaining as much liquor as possible. Carefully place them on a sheet pan and pop them in the freezer.
Render the bacon on low heat in a sauté pan and drain out a decent amount of fat, then add butter, shallots, and garlic. Increase heat to medium and sauté until just starting to brown. Deglaze with Pernod or Sambuca. Pour the sauce over half the spinach and toss.
Add cheese and mayonnaise, and then fold in the remaining spinach until it “feels” right. Set aside to cool down.
Spoon the spinach filling as generously as you dare onto frozen oysters. Lightly sprinkle the cracker crumble onto filling and gently pack it to hold in place.
Since Scott works in a fast-paced commercial kitchen, he usually sends them back to the freezer until it’s time to bake them. In our cash, bake at 350 degrees until they just start to brown on top, 15-25 minutes.
I should note that the lemon butter Ritz cracker crumbs are phenomenal; they are like candy and I found myself stuffing my face with them. They are a welcome addition to any seafood recipe that calls for cracker crumbs.
While we’re on the subject of oysters, Scott also shared with me his favorite topping for raw oysters on the half shell. I have tried just about every topping known to man on raw oysters, and my favorite is still a fiery cocktail sauce rich in horseradish, but a jalapeno mignonette is now my second favorite.
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/8 cup shallots, diced
1/2 cup jalapeños, diced
Boil sugar and vinegar. Pour over jalapeños and shallots. Let cool to room temperature and then refrigerate. Top each shucked oyster with about a teaspoon of this magical concoction.