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
Tear herbs and greens from stems and rinse. Dry in salad spinner.
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.
Melt 1/2 stick of butter, add to panko crumbs and parmesean cheese.
Place rock salt in bottom of cooking tray and arrange oysters on the half shell by nestling them into the salt.
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.
Broil for 6 to 8 minutes until golden.
Serve with lemon wedges.
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!"
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.