Morton's Restaurant Group, Inc. owns and operates Morton's of Chicago, a high-end steakhouse restaurant chain aimed at a business clientele, and Bertolini's Authentic Trattorias, a smaller chain offering Italian specialties in a casual dining atmosphere. At the end of 1998 Morton's Restaurant Group owned and operated 43 Morton's of Chicago and 12 Bertolini's units. All Morton's of Chicago restaurants were similar in style, concept, and decor, and were located in retail, hotel, commercial, and office building complexes in major metropolitan areas and urban centers. Catering primarily to business-oriented clients, Morton's of Chicago had an average per person check of about $65 in 1998. The Bertolini's restaurants offered white tablecloth service, with an average per person check of about $20. Morton's Restaurant Group also held a minority of stock in two other restaurant chains, Mick's and Peasant.

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Oysters Rockefeller


OYSTERS ROCKEFELLER
Morton's Steakhouse Copycat Recipe

Sauce:
6 ounces spinach, stems removed and rinsed
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
2 3/4 cups finely chopped yellow onions
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons of anise flavored liqueur, (such as Pernod or Pastis)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup cracker meal or cracker crumbs

Oysters:
Rock salt
2 1/2 dozen oysters in their shells, freshly shucked and drained, the deeper bottom shell rinsed and reserved for baking

Sauce:  Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a medium pot. Add the spinach and cook until very tender and the water is green, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the spinach in a colander set over a large bowl and reserve 2 3/4 cups of the cooking liquid. Let the spinach sit until cool enough to handle, then finely chop, and set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium pot over moderately high heat. When the butter is foamy, add the onions, celery and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the reserved spinach water, bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Add the chopped spinach, liqueur, salt and pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reduces slightly, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the cracker meal and food coloring, and stir well to combine. Cool completely before using.

Oysters:  Preheat the oven to 400. Spread a 1/2-inch-thick layer of rock salt on a large baking sheet and across the bottoms of 6 large plates. Arrange the reserved oyster shells on the baking sheet. Put 1 oyster in each shell and top with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the sauce, spreading the sauce evenly out to the edge of the shell to completely cover the oyster. (Alternatively, transfer the sauce to a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip and pipe the sauce over the oysters.) Bake until the sauce is lightly browned and the oysters begin to curl around the edges, about 20 minutes. Using tongs or a spatula, carefully transfer the hot shells to the salt-covered plates and serve immediately.

Notes: This renowned baked oyster dish was created at Antoine's Restaurant in New Orleans in 1899 by the owner. According to legend, the dish was created as a substitute for baked snails, which were hard to obtain from France. It was named in honor of John D. Rockefeller, at that time one of the world's richest men, because of the sauce's intense richness.

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