• Tommy Centola

Incorporate oysters in kitchen

I have yet to meet a seafood I did not eat. When asked what is my favorite seafood, my answer is always oysters. My favorite way to eat them requires no recipe, straight off the shell, seconds after opening one.

Many people, if they like oysters, prefer them to be cooked. They are great in appetizers, soups, salads and entrées. Often, oysters are deep fried, which is the way they are cooked in one of today’s recipes. Today’s recipes are Oysters Rockefeller Soup and Oysters Meaux, which can be either an appetizer or entrée.

Oysters Rockefeller was created in 1889 at Antoine’s restaurant. The dish was named after John D Rockefeller, who at the time was the wealthiest man in America. It was so named due to the richness of the dish. Most recipes include spinach. However, Antoine’s, who’s recipe is a closely guarded secret, repeatedly deny that they use spinach in their dish.

Oyster Rockefeller Soup is a great way to serve the flavors of Oysters Rockefeller to a large group. I am not sure what Jules Alciatore, the creator of the dish, would think of this dish. But, I can’t help but feel that he would approve.

Oysters Rockefeller Soup

1 pint shucked Oysters

2 quarts cold Water

1½ sticks of Butter

¾ cup Celery, chopped

½ cup Flour

8 ounces fresh Spinach leaves washed, stemmed and coarsely chopped

½ cup fresh Parsley, finely chopped

2 teaspoons fresh Thyme, finely chopped

½ teaspoon Creole Seasoning

2 cups Heavy Cream

Place oysters in a large saucepan and cover with 2 quarts cold water. Cook over medium heat just until the oysters begin to curl, about 5 minutes. Strain the oysters, reserving the stock. Set the oysters aside. Melt the butter in a large pot and sauté the celery until tender. Stir in the flour, and then add the oysters and oyster stock. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until thickened. Add the spinach, parsley, thyme and Creole seasoning. Pour in the cream and simmer several minutes until the soup is hot.

Visko’s was a seafood restaurant minutes from my house growing up. It was one of my favorite places to dine. Unfortunately, they closed in the late 1980’s. Their signature dish was Oysters Meaux. It was their play on Oysters Benedict, replacing Hollandaise sauce with their own version, Meaux sauce. Try it with either sauce, if you like oysters, you will love either version.

Oysters Meaux

24 Oysters

Seasoned Corn Flour

Egg Wash (1 cup Milk & 1 beaten Egg)

4 English Muffins, splits

12 slices Canadian Bacon

1 cup Meaux Sauce (to follow)

Paprika for garnish

4 slices Lime for garnish

4 sprigs Parsley for garnish

Bread the oysters using egg wash and seasoned cornflour. Deep fry the oysters until they are golden brown.

Preheat oven to broil. Arrange muffins, split sides up, on a baking sheet. Broil one minute (do not brown.) Remove; lower oven to 400 degrees. Place three slices of Canadian Bacon across each whole muffin. Return to oven for approximately 3 to 5 minutes to warm. Place 6 warm oysters on each half muffin and top with 4 tablespoons Meaux sauce. Serve immediately garnished with paprika, lime slice and parsley.

Meaux Sauce

3 whole Eggs

1/2 teaspoon White Pepper

1/8 teaspoon Red Pepper

3 tablespoons Lemon Juice

2 cups Vegetable Oil

3 tablespoons Imported Pommery Mustard or any grainy, mild mustard

Salt to taste

Place eggs, peppers and lemon juice in a blender; blend on high speed, approximately 20 seconds. Continue blending and pour in oil drop by drop until oil begins to emulsify. Pour remaining oil slowly in a steady stream. Remove from blender jar; stir in Pommery mustard and salt.

I am not sure who first thought to open up an oyster shell to see what was inside or the person who thought it would be good to eat. I am grateful to those people. I wish I could open one up right now.

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