Sunday, March 21, 2010

Smoked Oysters Rockefeller Pasta aka Smoked Oyster Pastafeller

Last night, I felt like one of the chefs on Chopped, the show hosted by Ted Allen.  The series challenges four up-and-coming chefs to turn a selection of everyday ingredients into an extraordinary three-course meal. After each course, one of the chefs gets "chopped" until the last man or woman left standing claims victory.

I had a toasted piece of Irish Soda Bread for breakfast, and then went shopping for the afternoon with my mom.  I tried to get her to go to lunch with me, at El Agave for Tacos al Pastor, or to Island Prime's C Level, for Chef Scott's Healthy Skirts on Fire salad.  She declined, and I came home starving.  I started scrounging around to see what I could come up with and that's when I transformed myself into a Chopped contestant presented with a basket of three ingredients:  3.75 oz. can of Geisha Smoked Oysters, small bag of Baby Spinach, and a bottle of Biokult Gruner Veltliner, an organic Austrian white wine.  I'm not sure how the wine ended up in our wine rack, but someone must have brought it over for our Valentine's Aphrodisiac Party.

Moving right along, I was famished, feeling a little weak in the knees, and needed something pronto!  The Chopped chefs can pull some basics from the pantry, to add to the three ingredients they received, in order to create their final dishes.  Let's see, oysters, spinach and wine...I took a quick look at my Flavor Bible (love this new book) to see what other things I might have in the pantry and fridge that would complement the oysters.  The book lists the most compatible ingredients in BOLD CAPS, followed by the next most compatible ingredients in bold.  Under oysters, I saw: garlic; LEMON, juice, zest; butter; OIL, olive oil; parsley, flat leafspinach, and WINE, dry white!  Then it came to me...Oysters Rockefeller, in a pasta version.  With a little help from Tyler Florence's Oysters Rockefeller recipe, I created this dish.

Smoked Oysters Pastafeller
Serves 2

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup bread crumbs (I used a mixture of regular and Panko)
2 handfuls fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup white wine
Salt and pepper, to taste
A few dashes of Chipotle Tabasco
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 3.5 oz. can Smoked Oysters, roughly chopped
8 oz. dry spaghetti or linguine pasta
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Ingredients from my Chopped basket, and a few others from the pantry...

Start by boiling your pasta water and cook your pasta according to package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, melt butter in a skillet and saute the garlic for 2 minutes to infuse the butter.

Place the bread crumbs in a mixing bowl and add half the garlic butter. Mix in the olive oil, grated Parmesan and chopped parsley, set aside.

To the remaining garlic butter in the skillet, add spinach, cook for 3 minutes until the spinach wilts. Deglaze the pan with white wine. Season with salt and pepper, add a dash or two of Chipotle Tabasco, and the oysters. Allow the mixture to cook down for a few minutes.

Drain the pasta and toss it with a little more olive oil and the spinach-oyster mixture. Divide the pasta into shallow, oven-proof bowls, sprinkle the top with the bread crumb mixture, and place under the broiler for a minute, or until the bread crumbs are golden brown. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the top and serve.

Sauteed garlic and butter

Bread crumb mixture

Sauteed spinach

Smoked Oysters

Sauteed Spinach and Oysters

Voila, Smoked Oysters Pastafeller!

After inhaling this, I called my mom...

Phone ringing
Mom:  Hello
Me:  Oh my God, I just created the most fabulous pasta dish
Mom:  What did you create?
Me:  I made an Oysters Rockefeller Pasta, with smoked oysters, spinach, garlic, butter, blah, blah, blah, and it was so amazing and delicious!
Mom:  Maybe you were just really hungry (i.e., maybe it wasn't as good as you think it was because anything tastes good when you're starving)

At that point, our neighbor Brad was walking by and I called him inside...

Me:  Brad, I just made the most incredible pasta!
Brad:  Really, what did you make?
Me:  (holding up the bowl and showing it to him)  Do you like Oysters Rockefeller?
Brad:  Are you kidding!? (grabbing the bowl from me and taking a big bite)
Me:  So, what do you think?
Brad:  Wow, that's amazing!

I'll take that as a victory and declare myself the new Chopped champion!


Anonymous said...

Mom says: I just envied your ability to create a fabulous sounding pasta dish in the same amount of time it took my Lean Cuisine to defrost. Love the idea of your Smoked Oysters Pastafeller. It really sounds outrageously delicious!

Carolyn Jung said...

I do a similar version with canned clams. I'm definitely giving it a whirl with smoked oysters next time. That would really liven things up. ;)

Carmen said...

Congratulations on this brilliant combination. I plan to try it this week. This entry makes me feel like camping because smoked oysters are one of my essential camping foods - and this dish looks easy enough to make on a camp stove. I just hope it doesn't attract bears! By the way ... that was my wine. Salut!

Anonymous said...

Feel free to pull ne off the side walk to taste your creations anytime!

R. said...

Haha! Looks GREAT! I *LOVE* The Flavor Bible. Every time I source it (daily) I feel like I'm creating something :D This looks fantastic!

Corrie said...

Wow. This recipe looks and sounds divine! Went over to check out your other posts....and I think I just found one of my new favorite blogs. :-D Great recipes that are not so complex that they are intimidating, great hints about where/what to eat in town, and beautiful photos to go with it all. Love it!

H said...

Hi Denise, I'm a fellow San Diegan (Norma Heights, actually), and I just stumbled across your blog. Thank you for all the wonderful recipes! I can't wait to get home to try some!


Marshie said...

Made this tonight. Needs more spinach but otherwise very good!! Cheap and easy to make!! You can adjust based on what butter/garlic etc you have in hand (I used slightly less butter, more hot sauce and would make slightly less crust next time) thanks !!