The original recipe for Oysters Rockefeller, one of the most widely recognized Louisiana dishes, is also one of the most guarded secrets in New Orleans. Originating at Antoine's Restaurant in the French Quarter, the dish consists of broiled oysters on the half shell topped with bold herbs and spices.
The widely-sought recipe was developed by Jules Alciatore, the second-generation proprietor of Antoine's Restaurant. Rumored to be the result of Jules improvising a new dish using leftover ingredients from the kitchen, the Oysters Rockefeller consists of a paste of bold, fresh herbs, such as tarragon, Italian parsley, chervil and celery leaves, as well as savory ingredients, such as Tabasco sauce and Pernod, lending the dish a bold kick. The oysters on the half-shell are topped with the paste and charbroiled to perfection.
In many restaurants, spinach or watercress and Parmesan cheese are also added to the oysters; however, this is a debatable choice since the original recipe, served at Antoine's in its original form still today, does not contain either. Although most of the former and current employees have remained tight-lipped about the original recipe, there are several adaptations, including one by Roy Alciatore, another proprietor of the world-famous restaurant, which may be the most accurate adaptation available. The recipe, which also calls for fresh French bread crumbs and real butter, was originally published in an edition of Life magazine's cookbook. It is said to be "rich enough for a real Rockefeller."