Oysters Rockefeller Italiana Recipe
Oysters Rockefeller is an American classic, but this Italian riff of it is molto bene! This recipe combines cream cheese with arugula, rosemary, sambuca, crispy bits of pancetta and is finished with parmesan breadcrumbs to create a richer and heartier bite than your traditional Rockefeller. The oysters are also grilled instead of broiled which adds a coastal California twist to bring it all back home. A nice crisp sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio and of course, champagne will cut through the richness of the cream cheese and pancetta while also complimenting the delicate brininess of the oyster. And while it may sound cheesy (pun intended), any time you’re craving a little taste of the coast, these Oysters Italiana will do the job… and then some!
Recipe prepares 6 large or 12 medium grilled oysters
Time: 1 hour total; active time 30 minutes.
2 tbsp Italian bread crumbs (store-bought is fine)
1 tsp grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp chopped parsley
6 Large or 12 medium oysters, top shell removed (Tomales Bay large were used here)
4 oz cream cheese (softened to room temp for about an hour)
2 oz (1/3 cup) small diced pancetta
1/4 tsp Fennel Seed
1/4 tsp Rosemary, chopped
1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tbsp chopped leeks
1 tsp garlic, minced
4 oz (about 2 cups) tightly packed baby arugula
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp Tabasco
1 tbsp sambuca
Preheat oven/toaster to 350 degrees preheat grill to high.
Place cream cheese in a medium bowl in a warm spot of the kitchen to soften for about an hour.
Spread breadcrumbs on a cookie sheet and toast in oven for 10-15 minutes, mixing halfway through, until the breadcrumbs are browned. When finished, place crumbs in a small bowl and mix with parsley and parmesan and set aside.
In a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, render pancetta (aka cook out the fat), stirring occasionally, until the pancetta is crispy. With a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta from the pan and set aside in a bowl. Do not wash out the pan.
Then turn the heat to medium and place fennel seeds and chopped rosemary in the pan with the rendered pancetta fat and cook, stirring the contents of the pan with a rubber spatula until the seeds and rosemary are fragrant. Be careful not to burn the seeds.
Add the EVOO, chopped leeks, and garlic to the pan and continue to cook, stirring often. You want to sweat the aromatics without caramelizing them. Once they are softened, about 3-4 minutes, add the arugula and continue to stir until the arugula is wilted, another 4-5 minute. Allow the mixture to cool for about 5 minutes on a cutting board and then chop it all up.
Combine the arugula mixture in the same bowl as the cream cheese, add the salt, pepper, Tabasco, and sambuca and using your hands, mix everything together until combined well.
Place the oysters on the hottest part of the grill and then top each oyster with about a tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture and some crispy pancetta. Allow them to cook for 5-10 minutes depending on the size. You want the oysters to be very hot so make sure they are bubbling before you remove them from the grill.
Now you’re ready to enjoy them, but make sure they aren’t super hot so you don’t burn your mouth!
Suggested Wine Pairings:
Greenhough Sauvignon Blanc, 2015 $16
Casale Dantello Pinot Grigio, 2015 $8
Michel Gonet Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature, Grand Cru Champagne $53
Spencer Hochman is a Private Chef in Sonoma County, CA who recently moved to wine country after growing up and spending the formative years of his culinary career in various well-known kitchens in NYC. He developed his market drive Italian style during his four years at L’Artusi in the West Village. With a desire to be closer to what he feels is the gastronomic heartbeat of America, Spencer’s west coast move has allowed him to be an arm’s length from some of the best farmers, fishmongers, vintners, and artisan food purveyors in the world!