This is my Greek take on Oysters Rockefeller, a dish so rich that it was named after the wealthy Rockefeller family in the US. This dish originated in New Orleans and up to the 80’s it appeared on many steak and seafood restaurant menus.
My Greek take on this classic includes use of a Bechamel, a cooking method introduced by Nikos Tselementes, a man who cooked in Paris hotels and has forever changed the landscape of Greek cuisine.
Spinach, of course is identifiable in Greek cooking and I’ve added Ouzo into the mix and of course, fresh dill. My Rockefeller redux even gets a cheese switch-up with my use of sharp Kefalotyri cheese made from sheep’s milk and a hint of nutmeg.
A little bit of Greek decadence, fit for Ari Onassis. I think the Greek Tycoon would have loved these!
Baked Oysters Onassis
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter (or olive oil)
3 Tbsp. all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups of warm whole milk
1/2 cup grated Kefalotyri cheese (or sharp Romano)
1/8 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
For the Spinach
2 cups blanched fresh spinach, hand-squeezed of excess water, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
6-7 scallions, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. of minced garlic
1/4 cup of Ouzo
1/4 chopped fresh dill
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of breadcrumbs
1/2 stick of butter, melted
12 good sized fresh oysters
3-4 cups coarse sea salt
large flat baking tray
1/2 cup grated Kefalotyri cheese
wedges of lemon
extra-virgin olive oil
Pre-heated 450F oven
- For the bechamel, add the butter to a medium pot and melt over medium heat then add the flour and stir in for a minute. Add the milk in increments, stir in, repeat until the milk is amalgamated and your bechamel has thickened. Take off the heat, add the grated cheese, nutmeg and stir in until cheese has melted in. Adjust with salt and pepper, allow to cool.
- For the spinach, place a skillet on the stovetop over medium heat and add the olive oil, scallions and garlic and sweat for 5 minutes. Add the Ouzo and reduce until there is barely any liquid left. Take off the heat and allow to cool. Add the chopped spinach, dill and stir in. Now add the spinach mixture into the cooled bechamel and stir in. Adjust flavouring with salt and pepper, reserve.
- Melt your butter and add to your breadcrumbs and stir/mix with a spoon. Pre-heat your oven to 450F.
- Spread the sea salt on your baking sheet and set aside. Now, carefully shuck your oysters and place on the sea salt (the salt keeps the oysters level and from spilling their liqueur.
- Place a spoonful of spinach mixture into each oyster then top each with breadcrumbs and the remaining grated cheese. Place on the rack on the top third of the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes or until tops are golden.
- Remove from the oven, place on a platter, anoint with extra-virgin olive oil, serve with lemon wedges and dill garnishes. Serve with Hinterland Rose 2011 Method Traditional.
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