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Karl's Oysters Rockefeller

Karl’s Kreamy Sliders
by Karl Kolbus

  • 24 medium oysters, cleaned and shucked (clean and reserve 24 of the best shell halves)
  • 1-14oz. can chopped spinach
  • Or 1lb pkg. frozen, chopped spinach
  • Or 1 lb fresh spinach, ribs removed, cleaned and chopped
  • ½ cup yellow onion, chopped fine
  • 3 or 4 shallots, minced very fine
  • 4-6 large egg yolks, separated – may not have any white!
  • 1 can Campbell’s Chicken Stock or your favorite equivalent
  • 2 cups clarified, unsalted butter (amount depends on how much the Hollandaise takes) (method follows)
  • 1½ tsp. fresh tarragon, chopped very fine
  • Or ½ tsp dried tarragon, crumbled 2 Tbs. white vinegar
  • ½ tsp. minced garlic (optional)
  • Salt and white pepper to taste
  • 4-6 lbs. rock salt

  • Preparation:

    Prepare clarified butter and allow to cool to near room temperature (method follows)

    Clean, drain, and finely chop spinach.

    Place 2 Tbs. Clarified butter in 1 qt. saucepan, add onions (and garlic; optional) and sauté until onions are transparent. Add chopped spinach and, if fresh spinach is used, simmer on low heat until well wilted, stirring occasionally. Add small amounts of chicken stock as required and don’t let it burn. You want to end up with a moist, almost paste-like mixture but with some texture. Salt and pepper to taste. Put aside.

    Prepare Hollandaise sauce, cover with wax paper, and keep warm

    Spread rock salt evenly on a rectangular cookie sheet with raised sides. Place in oven on upper rack and heat at 400F for about 10-15 minutes.

    While that is going on, place 1 Tbs. of the spinach mixture on each of the 24 half shells.

    Slide the hot cookie sheet partially out of the oven and arrange the filled shells on the bed of rock salt. Slide the sheet back in, turn off the oven, turn on the broiler and broil for about 3-4 minutes until you can just see steam rising from the spinach. Don’t overheat and scorch it. When ready, slide the sheet back out partially and place an oyster in each shell, pressing it into the spinach. Return to the broiler and broil until the edges of the oysters just begin to curl and appear to dry out. If in doubt, press gently with a fork; they should just be starting to firm up a bit. Slide back out and place a good dollop (1 to 1 ½ Tbs.) of Hollandaise on top of each one, return to broiler and broil just until the Hollandaise begins to bubble very slightly or starts to darken. Don’t overcook, as the sauce will break down. Remove from oven and serve at once. Great with…. Heck, they’re great by themselves!

    < Hollandaise Sauce

    In a 1 qt. saucepan, place 2 Tbs. vinegar, chopped shallots and tarragon. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly until all the liquid has evaporated. All you want is the essence of the ingredients; not the liquid. Allow to cool until you can touch the pan comfortably.

    Place the pan in a warm water bath on the stove, like a double boiler, at about 200F; hot but not boiling or even simmering.

    Add the egg yolks, and whisk constantly with a wire whisk until the yolks start to turn a nice, lemon yellow color. This can’t be hurried, and you will notice a definite color change. Remember, too much heat and you’ve just made yourself an omelet!

    Now add the warm, clarified butter. Start with just a few drops at a time, whisking constantly, until it is completely absorbed by the yolks. At first it will go slowly, but after a while you can add more and more butter at a time until you can pour it in a small, steady, stream. Continue adding the butter until the absorption process starts to slow down, then STOP! Add salt and white pepper to taste. You’ll be surprised at how much butter the yolks can hold, but there is a limit and you don’t want an oily sauce. Turn off the burner and cover with wax paper, resting it on the surface of the sauce to prevent a skin from forming. You can keep it warm in the bath for an hour or two, if necessary.

    Clarified butter

    Making clarified butter is easy, but time consuming. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much of your time - just that of the stove. Make more than you need and store what you don’t in the fridge or freezer. Here’s how it’s done:

    Place a pound (or more) unsalted butter in a saucepan, and place over low heat. The butter will melt, and then start foaming. It will foam for quite a while, then it will subside and the solids will begin to ‘cook out’. Continue cooking it until all the solids have accumulated on the bottom of the pan and have started to turn a tan color. This insures that they are stuck to the bottom and you won’t have to filter it. Let cool (it will be quite hot), and use or store as desired.

    Note: In some Far Eastern countries, clarified butter or Ghee as it’s called (rhymes with key), is used almost exclusively, and its’ making becomes a kind of family party with all the relatives joining in, often producing 100 or 200 pounds at a time.