If you’re fortunate enough to live in a part of the world that has a coastline, you’ve probably enjoyed some pretty fresh seafood — and you know that the fresher, the better. In the seafood world, there’s no better example of that-which-must-be-enjoyed-fresh than oysters.
Somehow these little guys contain the very essence of the sea, and thanks to the ease with which they can be cultured, they can be enjoyed year-round almost anywhere.
The secret’s out
Probably the most famous dish incorporating oysters is Oysters Rockefeller — literally named for the richness of its sauce when John D. Rockefeller was the wealthiest man in America. In 1899, Jules Alciatore, the founder of Antoine’s in New Orleans, Louisiana, created the dish.
The original recipe remains a secret to this day: even former employees of Antoine’s won’t talk about how it’s made. But food scientists have made a decent stab at deconstructing the recipe, and, by all accounts, they’ve come pretty close.
A balanced pairing
So, what can you pair with a dish so rich that it’s named for one of the wealthiest men in history? Sometimes, a partnership works best when one of the two parties is a little more … understated.
That’s why UFO Pale Ale is the choice for this pairing. It’s crisp and mild, but flavorful, with a definite dry-hop presence, and a light caramel flavor that ends with a clean herbal, mint note. It won’t try to compete with the richness of the Rockefeller; it will just keep it balanced.
adapted from variations on Antoine’s Oysters Rockefeller
- 2-dozen fresh oysters on the half shell, oyster liquor reserved
- 4 sprigs flat-leaf Italian parsley, very finely minced
- 4 green onions (including the green part), very finely minced
- a handful of fresh celery leaves, very finely minced
- 6 fresh chervil leaves
- 6 to 12 fresh tarragon leaves, very finely minced
- ¾ cup of finely grated Parmesan cheese (or any hard Italian cheese)
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Tabasco sauce, to taste
- 2 tablespoons Pernod (optional)
- rock salt
- Put finely minced herbs, softened butter, and grated cheese in your blender. Pulse to combine.
- Scrape the mixture into a mixing bowl and season to taste with salt, pepper, Tabasco, and for a little extra kick, Pernod.
- Preheat the broiler of your oven. Place the rack in the middle.
- Spread the rock salt over the baking sheet; this will keep the oysters level under the broiler so they won’t tip over. Moisten the salt very slightly. Plant the shells in the salt, making sure they’re level.
- Place one oyster in each shell, plus a tablespoon or so of the oyster liquor. Spoon an equal amount of the prepared herb butter mixture over each oyster.
- Place the baking sheet on the rack and broil until the edges of the oysters have curled and the herb butter is bubbling, about five minutes. Serve immediately.