Recipe: the legendary oysters Rockefeller from Frank’s Kitchen on College
By Frank Parhizgar
PREP TIME: 20 minutes
COOK TIME: 13 minutes
4 smoked bacon strips
2 cups spinach leaves
BREAD CRUMB MIXTURE
1 cup coarse bread crumbs, preferably brioche
1 cup fresh parsley
1–2 tbsp olive oil
Generous pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
⅔ cup unsalted butter
3 large egg yolks
2 dashes Tabasco sauce
1–3 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Cook bacon in a medium frying pan over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes until slightly crispy. Remove to a paper towel–lined plate. Discard fat. Add shallot to pan. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until translucent. Add spinach. Sauté for 2 minutes until wilted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove and squeeze most of liquid from spinach. Finely chop spinach and bacon. Toss in a small bowl.
2. Blend bread crumbs, parsley, 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper until evenly mixed. Add remaining oil as needed.
3. For hollandaise, melt butter in a small saucepan on the stove or in a bowl in the microwave. Skim off foam. Pour ½ cup into a measuring cup, discarding any milk solids.
4. Fit a metal bowl over a pot containing 1 inch water. Bring to a simmer. Add yolks to bowl and set over simmering water. Whisk for 2 to 3 minutes until mixture is frothy. Remove from heat. Slowly whisk in clarified butter until emulsified. Season with Tabasco, 1 tsp lemon juice, salt and pepper. Carefully shuck oysters, keeping them in their shells. Whisk 1 tbsp oyster juice into hollandaise. Add more lemon juice to taste.
5. Preheat broiler. Remove oysters from shells and set on a plate. Set bottom oyster shells on a baking sheet. Place ½ tsp hollandaise in each shell. Top with 1 heaping tbsp spinach-bacon mixture and an oyster. Top with more hollandaise and bread crumb mixture.
6. Sprinkle with bread crumb mixture. Broil for 3 to 5 minutes until oysters are golden on top. Serve warm.
If you’re daunted by shucking oysters, ask your fishmonger to pop open the shells to get you started. Bivalves will keep well on ice for up to 6 hours.
When chef Frank Parhizgar opened his sliver of a restaurant in 2010, Little Italy was considered a gastronomic tundra. His elegant, impeccably executed bistro food raised the standard of dining in the neighbourhood, triggering an onslaught of terrific new restaurants on College Street. When creating his oysters Rockefeller, Parhizgar took a few liberties with the traditional recipe: in addition to the requisite hollandaise and bread crumbs, he tops the bivalves with fresh spinach and a little bacon (from the milk-fed pigs he brings in whole from St. Jacobs). The chef created the dish as a tribute to his former boss, Marc Thuet (a champion of the classic oysters Rockefeller). Parhizgar’s version is no less popular than Thuet’s—the restaurant goes through about 800 oysters a week.