Cooking With Fire: Champagne

Dec 28, 2018

Credit Justin Cary

The new year is nearly here and 2018 will be a thing of the past. And if you are like many Americans you will be celebrating the start of 2019 with a glass of champagne.

Champagne has been the drink of choice at celebrations, whether it's a New Year’s party, weddings, or graduations. But it wasn’t always this way: In fact, winemakers from the Champagne region of France tried for years to stop their wines from bubbling in order to produce those classic “still” wines that they hoped would rival the drinks coming out of Burgundy.

But it wasn’t until they accepted their region's limitations that the world was introduced to, what we now classify as, sparkling wine.

You see, wine produced in other regions of France would ferment and then be aged before bottling. But in Champagne, the freezing winters would stop the fermentation and in the spring as temperatures warmed the yeast would awaken and begin fermenting again. For many years this meant that bottles would build pressure and then explode, but as the Traditional Method — the regulated rules for creating champagne — were set and glass bottles became stronger, winemakers were able to control this second fermentation and create this new class of wine.

Champagne caught on and became the drink of choice for royal celebrations, and in the early 18th century champagne was introduced to the rich and famous by the Duke of Orléans and has been the preferred drink for celebrations ever since.

On this episode of Cooking with Fire, well, we have to have fire. So Chef Tom is preparing Grilled Shrimp & Champagne Beurre Blanc.

Grilled Shrimp & Champagne Beurre Blanc

Ingredients

  • 1 lb jumbo shrimp
  • 1 cup champagne
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked salt

For the rub:

  • 2 tbsp smoked salt
  • 1 tbsp coarse black pepper

For the Beurre Blanc:

  • 1 cup champagne style wine
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp shallots, minced
  • 1 sprig tarragon
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup European style butter, cubed

Instructions

  1. Place the shrimp in a zip top bag. Add the 1 cup champagne, lemon juice, olive oil, pepper and salt. Remove the air from the bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat your grill for high heat (500ºF) direct grilling.
  3. Remove the shrimp from the marinade. Season the shrimp with smoked salt and black pepper.
  4. Grill the shrimp over direct heat until lightly charred. Flip and continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 140ºF. Remove from the grill and cover to keep warm.
  5. While the shrimp cooks, prepare the Champagne Beurre Blanc. Combine all ingredients, except the butter, in a sauté pan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until the liquid is reduced by 3/4. With the heat on low, add a couple of cubes of butter to the skillet and stir constantly until incorporated. Repeat this process until all of the butter is incorporated. Strain the sauce and keep warm until ready to serve.
  6. Serve the shrimp warm with the Champagne Beurre Blanc for dipping.
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