Oysters Rockefeller

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Oysters Rockefeller
Oysters Rockefeller at Galatoires.jpg
Course Hors d'oeuvre, Entrée[1]
Place of origin United States
Region or state New Orleans
Main ingredients Oysters
Cookbook: Oysters Rockefeller  Media: Oysters Rockefeller
Oysters Rockefeller

Oysters Rockefeller consists of oysters on the half-shell that have been topped with various other ingredients (often parsley and other green herbs, a rich butter sauce and bread crumbs) and are then baked or broiled.


Oysters Rockefeller was created at the New Orleans restaurant Antoine's. Antoine's was founded in 1840 by Antoine Alciatore, who moved to New Orleans after two frustrating years in New York trying to open a restaurant of his own. The dish was created in 1899 by Jules Alciatore,[2] son of the restaurant's founder.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had oysters Rockefeller at Antoine's in 1937. Mayor Robert Maestri commented to Roosevelt "How you like dem erstas?", as the national press transcribed Maestri's Yat accent.[3]

The dish was named oysters Rockefeller after John D. Rockefeller, the richest American at the time, for the intense richness of the sauce.[2] Though the original recipe is a secret, the sauce is known to be a purée of a number of green vegetables other than spinach.[2] It consists of oysters on the half-shell topped with the sauce and bread crumbs and then baked.[citation needed] Jules Alciatore developed oysters Rockefeller in the face of a shortage of French snails, substituting the locally available oysters for snails. Antoine's has been serving the original recipe dish since 1899. It is estimated that Antoine's has served over three and a half million orders.[2]

Though many New Orleans restaurants serve dishes purporting to be oysters Rockefeller, Antoine's claims that no other restaurant has been able to successfully duplicate the recipe. Similar versions of the dish have proliferated in New Orleans, developed to capitalize on the fame of Antoine's signature dish, but because the recipe for oysters Rockefeller was passed down from the creator, Jules Alciatore of Antoine's to his children, and has apparently never left the family's hands, competing restaurants have had to formulate their own recipes.

Alton Brown of the Food Network series Good Eats states in the episode titled "Shell Game" that Jules Alciatore took the original recipe with him to the grave, and any version of the recipe that exists today is only an assumption, based on descriptions of the original dish. While many have achieved the trademark green color of the original—a color easily attainable by using spinach in the recipe—it is said that few get the flavor of Antoine's recipe right. Antoine's chefs have repeatedly denied that the authentic recipe contains spinach. A 1986 laboratory analysis by William Poundstone in Bigger Secrets indicated that the primary ingredients were parsley, pureed and strained celery, scallions or chives (indistinguishable in a food lab), olive oil, and capers.

Malcolm Hébert, native Louisianan, cookbook author and wine and food editor, also indicates that the original recipe did not have spinach, and gives a slightly different version that adds the all-important ingredient Herbsaint (or substitute Pernod).[4] It is not possible that either Herbsaint or Pernod were in the original 1899 recipe, as Herbsaint was first made in 1934, and Pernod anise liqueur not appearing until after the First World War. However, Pernod Fils absinthe easily pre-dates the year oysters Rockefeller was created.[5] It is likely the 1899 recipe actually included absinthe, for which Herbsaint later became a substitute.

Oysters Rockefeller has been served as a brunch dish in the Southern United States.[6]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Howard Mitcham (1992). Creole Gumbo and All That Jazz: A New Orleans Seafood Cookbook. Pelican Publishing. p. 46. ISBN 0882898701. 
  2. ^ a b c d Guste, Roy F., Jr. (1980). Antoine's Restaurant Cookbook, Since 1840. New York: W. W. Norton & Co. p. 32. ISBN 0-393-02666-3. Retrieved 13 June 2011. 
  3. ^ Campanella, Catherine. "1937 - FDR in New Orleans". New Orleans History -- Lake Pontchartrain. Retrieved 13 June 2011. 
  4. ^ Taggart, Chuck. "Oysters Rockefeller". The Gumbo Pages. Retrieved 13 June 2011. 
  5. ^ "Pernod : A Long Heritage: Key Dates". Pernod. Archived from the original on 2 June 2009. Retrieved 12 June 2011. 
  6. ^ Ternikar, F. (2014). Brunch: A History. The Meals Series. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 3. ISBN 978-1-4422-2943-3. 

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