Not that we are necessarily poorer up North in Canada, it is just that our local Pacific Fanny Bay oysters are usually sold shucked and not in the shell. So no way to bake them on the half shell. It is a splendid dish with a glamorous name and it would do well on Mother’s day as even the most novice cook would have no trouble putting it together.
One 16 oz container of shucked oysters (it contained 24), one head of fennel, fresh or frozen spinach, 1/2 an onion, a clove garlic, 1/2 cup cream, a slice of bacon, a splash of hot sauce or Cayenne pepper and grated cheese is all what you need.
First chop the fennel and the onion and saute them on medium heat in olive oil for about five minutes, add the spinach, salt, and cook another 5 minutes. Empty the frying pan into a gratin dish. Add the bacon cut into lardon size bits and a little more oil and the chopped garlic, with the drained oysters and fry for about 5-7 minutes on high. Add the hot sauce or Cayenne ( and if you like anise , a tbsp of Ricard or Pernod or 1/4 tsp ground anise seeds). Add the cream and 1 tbsp tapioca flour or other flour and thicken. Add salt and pepper. Transfer to the gratin dish and stir with the vegetables. Cover with a thin layer of fine bread crumbs ( optional) and grated cheese (not much) and broil 5 minutes or until lightly brown.
Note: If you have to shuck oysters, it helps to put them 10 minutes in the freezer to relax the muscle and make it easier to open the shell. The dish was called after Rockefeller because it is so rich. Butter can be used instead of cream to make it even richer.