Oysters Rockefeller Bites
In my quest to get through the holidays without blowing my glucose and weight control goals, I've been working on some lower carb and lower fat versions of old favorites. Oysters Rockefeller has been part of holiday gatherings in my family as long as I can remember -– and it's a year-round favorite of Elise's – so of course it was on my list.
There are about as many recipes for oysters Rockefeller as there are varieties of oyster. Most include bread crumbs, cheese, butter, cream or some combination thereof, in addition to basic spinach, oysters and anisette. The combination is usually spooned into an oyster shell for serving. Part of my strategy for keeping the counts within bounds in my version was to make the portion size smaller, in keeping with my philosophy that it's better to have a small treat than to do completely without. Then I went work to make a satisfying version of the old favorite that didn't depend so much on fat.
The result: sastifying little bites for your holiday starter plates!
Oysters Rockefeller Bites
10 4-piece servings
Most of the preparation of these little bites can be done up to a day ahead – see the notes in the Method section of the recipe.
- 2-3 extra-thin slices white or French bread (about 1/4" thick)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 green pepper, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 rib celery, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/2 pound fresh spinach (or half of a 10-oz package of frozen cooked spinach)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 12 ounces shucked oysters with their liquid (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 teaspoon anise seeds, ground
- 1 tablespoon anisette
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
1. Remove the crusts from the bread and cut into 40 pieces, 1 1/4" square.
2. Toast the bread pieces to a golden brown and allow to cool. (If doing this step ahead, when the toasts are completely cool seal them in a plastic food storage bag. May be done one day ahead.)
3. If using fresh spinach, wash, dry and remove any large stems.
4. Chop the spinach and set aside.
5. In a medium sauté pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat and allow it to bubble for a couple of minutes without browning.
6. Stir the flour into the butter and cook, stirring, for a minute or two.
7. Add the chopped pepper, onion and garlic to the pan. If using fresh spinach, add it to the pan. Stir to combine ingredients. Simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Vegetables should not brown. If it gets too dry add some of the oyster liquor, or a little water. (May be done up to one day ahead to this point. Place the vegetable mixture in a sealed plastic container and refrigerate. If using frozen spinach, place it a separate sealed plastic container and refrigerate. Gently reheat the vegetable mixture in a sauté pan before continuing.)
8. Drain the oysters (reserving liquid) and chop them.
9. Add the chopped oysters and ground anise seed to the vegetable mixture. If using frozen spinach, add it to the pan. Cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The mixture should be dry enough to hold together when placed on the toast squares. If not, extend the cooking a few minutes. If too dry, add some of the reserved oyster liquor.
10. Stir in the anisette and season to taste.
11. Place 1 tablespoon of the spinch-oyster mix on each of the toast squares.
12. Scatter a pinch of cheese on each bite.
13. Broil in a pre-heated oven just long enough to melt the cheese (1 - 2 minutes).