“Hollywood,” as everybody in New Orleans knows him, is the master of the oyster bar at the Acme restaurant in the French Quarter. He is passionate about Gulf Coast oysters and even more so about the proper way to open one. “I’ve been lobbying the state to certify peoples that open oysters. It is an art, just like being a sushi chef,” he bellows. After he showed his technique and schooled me on the New Orleans way to eat a raw oyster (a drop of hot sauce, then slurp it out without your mouth touching the shell), I asked him about his grilled oysters Rockefeller, which I had heard about all over the Quarter. “Damn man, they is good, my neighbors and friends can’t git enough,” answers Hollywood, with his eyes just sparkling. So here it is—one of the best oysters Rockefeller I’ve ever had, and I think you will agree.
Light a charcoal fire or preheat your gas grill on high. Oil the grill’s cooking surface. Let the coals burn down to a medium-hot fire or adjust the gas grill burners to medium.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until you just smell it. Add the onions, celery, and bell peppers and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach and milk, and cook, stirring a few times, another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Shuck the oysters as if you were serving them on the half shell. Pour any liquor from the oysters into the spinach mixture. Place the oysters on a baking sheet. Add about 1 tablespoon of the spinach mixture to each oyster. (You may not use up all the spinach mixture.) Top with some cheese and breadcrumbs. Place the oysters on the grill, cover, and cook until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.
Remove the oysters to a platter and serve with lemon wedges, if desired.
Photo: Brian Hagiwara