These Oysters ROCK! Oysters Rockefeller

March 30, 2011
7 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

I originally entered this recipe in the "Recipe you want to be remembered for" contest. Like many of you, I struggled with what recipe to pick. I submitted this because I realized that this recipe is my favorite because it marks my evolution as a cook. The reason I am so creative is because I learned at the hip of my Gran. Starting out as her "sous chef" when I was less than three and standing on the step ladder/chair/deathtrap, I learn to stir carefully, then I am "promoted" and learn to dice precisely and eventually, cook with love and abandon.

Fast forward 45 years later...the day before I am to go on the Martha Stewart Show.

I am standing on top of the Rockefeller Center in NYC with my daughter at sunset....her college spring break and I am thinking about my legacy. My grandmother and mother before me, and now my daughter following me. Feeling a bit nostalgic, I remember attempting to recreate the oyster dish from Antoine's (a secret recipe not shared by any employee) in New Orleans. My grandmother had a cook book with recipes from many famous restaurants, but the owners wouldn't give this recipe.

Gran taught me to read a cookbook like a detective novel...or a romance novel, or historical fiction...but the different types of cookbooks each provided a different inspiration, a different leading lady, and could lead you to desperate thoughts (and deeds!) That cookbook haunted me. I had to figure out how to not only recreate a classic, but to unlock the secret combination of ingredients.

I've had a lot of fun trying to come up with a winning combination over the years, and this one is it and it has become the traditional first course at my mother's birthday dinner, and of course, Christmas Eve,so I will be making it again in a few weeks. —lorigoldsby

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Lorigoldsby is a cooking class instructor and caterer who learned how to cook with her Gran.
WHAT: Oysters Rockefeller that live up to their name.
HOW: Purée your herbs and greens with butter and cheese, dollop on your oysters, top with panko and cheese, and bake.
WHY WE LOVE IT: The herbs and peppery greens in these Oysters Rockefeller take the usual buttery-breadcrumby goodness to a whole new level; each oyster feels balanced, not just indulgent. Get out a bottle of bubbly -- this is a recipe to celebrate. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1/4 cup chervil
  • 1/4 cup savory
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 bunch arugula
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 4 green onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/4 ounce Pernod
  • Dash Tabasco
  • Kosher salt and rough cracked pepper
  • 24 oysters on the half shell
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus extra
  • 1 pound rock salt
  • 2 lemons
  1. Tear herbs and greens from stems and rinse. Dry in salad spinner.
  2. In food processor, combine garlic and shallots, herbs, and greens with one and a half sticks of butter, cubed. Pulse a few times then add Pernod, Tabasco and kosher salt and coarse cracked pepper to taste. Pulse again until mixture is finely chopped.
  3. Melt 1/2 stick of butter, add to panko crumbs and parmesean cheese.
  4. Place rock salt in bottom of cooking tray and arrange oysters on the half shell by nestling them into the salt.
  5. Scoop a generous portion of the greens mixture on top of the oyster. Top with a sprinkling of the panko/cheese mixture. With a fine zester, grate additional Parmesean on top.
  6. Broil for 6 to 8 minutes until golden.
  7. Serve with lemon wedges.
  8. Note: If you have extra green/herb mixture, you can create a "non-oyster rockefeller" by nestling a scoop of the mixture directly on the rock salt and scooping it onto a crostini after baking. It makes a nice "chef's treat!"

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • ChefJune
  • drbabs
  • dymnyno
  • fiveandspice
  • boulangere

Recipe by: lorigoldsby

I learned to cook with my Gran. I can still see her reading a recipe and figuring out how she would make it better. She was fearless about substituting ingredients--but also knowledgeable. She approached food in the same way she built her antique business--appreciate quality ingredients and workmanship, but don't be a snob. I think I carry those same beliefs in my approach to cooking. I love family style dinners, I love a fancy ladies' luncheon with my wedding china, or a backyard seafood boil to celebrate my husband's birthday...I love to share food with others.

36 Reviews

cosmiccook March 8, 2024
I wouldn't try the "rock salt" suggestion--not only is it too salty but I'm not sure its safe to consume rock salt.
cosmiccook February 13, 2021
I'm making this a la gratin--skipping the shells this time. I do wish the ingredients were all either volume or weight. Re: bunch of Arugula--most available is "baby" arugula unless your farmers market has mature as a bunch--and the flavor will be significantly stronger. I also increase the Herbsaint--we use absinthe to 1/2 oz. Also sub w Crystal as we prefer that flavor profile.
lorigoldsby February 13, 2021
Those are great notes! Thank you!
cosmiccook January 8, 2019
Making this for the 2nd time tomorrow--getting a sack of O's. Raw, Rockefeller (on the grill) and charbroiled. Next to impossible to find Savory and Chervil--mine in the garden are still infants so I up the cress, arugula, and parsley. I love it--SO easy--and WAY better than the one my BIL tried with--yes gag me--jarred BABY FOOD!
lorigoldsby February 13, 2021
Oh my...I can't imagine jarred baby food!
cosmiccook February 13, 2021
IT WAS WRETCHED the smell was foul--I had the beginnings of the flu and just about lost my stomach when they passed them around. If you must hack the recipe at least use Stouffer's frozen spinach--if that's still around.
Ginny H. February 14, 2021
What is rock salt? Where do you find it? Can one use the tan lumpy stuff meant for Ivey driveways?
cosmiccook October 30, 2021
NO that is not food grade. Look for ice cream salt.
nayna April 14, 2014
I don't have a broiler at my current apartment- I do, however have access to fresh oysters. would a torch do the trick for cooking the topping? Thanks !
lorigoldsby April 14, 2014
I think that is a brilliant idea! Use a light want some golden topping, not a hard scorch!
Ilene February 15, 2014
what is a 1/4 cup of savory?
lorigoldsby February 15, 2014
Savory is a green herb
Ilene February 15, 2014
wow, thank you, i never heard of it. hope i can find it :)
cosmiccook February 13, 2021
Its hard to find in its fresh state. I use dry about 2 teaspoons.
ChefJune February 10, 2014
If you really can't handle oysters, try putting the stuffing into a large mushroom cap and proceeding with the baking. It's a very acceptable substitute.
lorigoldsby February 15, 2014
ChefJune...that is a brilliant adaption!
drbabs May 1, 2011
Lori, I grew up in New Orleans and Antoine's was one of my favorite restaurants. (I went there before my senior prom!) I really don't like oysters, but I know that their Rockefeller is special and a closely guarded secret. Your writing reflects perfectly your cooking journey and why you chose this recipe. Happy birthday to your mom, and happy mothers' day to you all.
lorigoldsby May 5, 2011
Thanks drbabs! i looked for your recipe with this contest but didn't see it....this was a fun way to get to know each other...and ourselves!
cosmiccook February 13, 2021
This is the closest to the "real" recipe--which is a proprietary recipe at Antoine's--which has 18 ingredients!!
I like the combo of watercress, spinach & Arugula! Spot on Lori!

cosmiccook October 30, 2021
@ drbabs, if oysters aren't your thing--try the miniature puff pastry shells--like the ones we grew up for the holidays in N.O. Sub oysters w oyster mushrooms.
dymnyno April 30, 2011
Oysters Rockefeller has always been one of my favorite appetizers and your version doesn't disappoint!!! Congrats on a great recipe and thanks for sharing.
lorigoldsby May 5, 2011
Thanks! I like that it is herby and grassy vs just plain spinach. My version of "surf and turf!"
cosmiccook October 30, 2021
I think the MOST impressive thing about this recipe is it contains HERBS YOU RARELY SEE OR USE! I'd say my #1 & # 2 peeves about cooking & recipes across the board are the indifference to the dozens of OTHER herbs out there. Chervil, savory, marjoram to name a few! The other peeve, use garlic and other flavorings. People gush about N.O food-- our food is NOT so different but we don't fear spices or the amounts.
Deedledum April 24, 2024
I live in a town of 20,000 in Ontario. Though I rarely see fresh chervil, marjoram or savory, both summer savory and marjoram are easily found in dried form. Make a point of looking for them, cause they'll add some great flavour to your cooking.
fiveandspice April 29, 2011
Thanks so much for sharing this lori! I've never managed to learn to like oysters, but these look so tasty, they just may send me on my way to loving them.
lorigoldsby April 29, 2011
you would probably love the "chef's treat" that is the leftover mix baked on top of the salt bed...the oysters do cook through so there is none of the "ick" factor when oyster virgins face their first raw oyster.
fiveandspice April 29, 2011
Ooh, yes. In fact, I'm thinking about making a batch of filling and turning it exclusively into "chef's treat"! :)
boulangere April 28, 2011
How generous and kind of you to share your recipe/memory. Oysters, spinach, arugula (surely that is a brilliant new age addition) - what's not to love . . . or to remember.
lorigoldsby April 29, 2011
Thanks!! I remember when the arugula trend first started hit the states and began gaining popularity. We had in on sandwiches in France. The peppery flavor was what made me add it...who knows? maybe the original Antoine ate arugula when he lived in Marsielles. We think of it as a "new" ingredient but it was actually used by the Romans for centuries, and in the south, there is a herb "rockets" which is akin to arugula.
boulangere April 30, 2011
Yes,and remember when cilantro was all new - there was a thread about that a few days ago. I live in a landlocked country now, and very much miss access to truly fresh seafoods, especially oysters.
lorigoldsby May 5, 2011
that is so funny--I can't remember cooking without cilantro now! Not just for latin cooking but with asian dishes as well!
frog February 12, 2014
Rocket is the English word for arugula. Rocket was growing wild in the swampy area of Paris, le Marais, in the 1200's when the street rue de la roquette was named for it. Wild rocket (arugula) has a stronger, more peppery flavor.
Antoine's Rockefeller recipe is a tightly held secret, but 2 things are known: it uses 7 greens and no spinach. That being said, everybody else in the city makes it with spinach.
aargersi April 27, 2011
Yum!! Love these!
lorigoldsby April 28, 2011
Thanks for the love lapadia and aargersi...that is high praise from you guys. I posted this a few weeks ago and have been trying to decide if this would be my recipe to enter in this week's contest. Everyone thought I should enter one of my desserts, but I love this recipe because it was the first one that I really used my culinary knowledge to figure out how to capture a balance of flavors. Most people don't like oysters rockafeller because it just tastes of spinach...but the butter in this just melts away with the herbs and bathes it in a brightness that we love.
lapadia April 28, 2011
:) "liked it"
lapadia April 27, 2011
Yum, I love oysters and this recipe sounds great!