Cooking with Champagne – Shrimp, Clams and Champagne are Made for Each Other

New Year's Eve champagne toast
New Year's Eve champagne toast
shrimp in champagne and butter
shrimp in champagne and butter

My imagination went on overdrive the other night, and I couldn’t get the thought out of my head - clams and shrimp cooked in champagne! I used to prepare a different version of clams with white wine, garlic, and parsley cooked in extra virgin olive oil. It makes a great dish with some French bread that you can dip in the sauce. It can also stand alone as an appetizer without the bread.

Champagne is something you would drink on special occasions like anniversaries and milestone birthdays. It’s also ever present during New Year’s Eve parties and weddings. When you think about it, you can have champagne anytime you want. The same goes for preparing or eating special food. Foodies like to splurge on food sometimes and we don’t need a special occasion to cook something a wee bit extravagant at times.

Shellfish, crustaceans and champagne go so well together, whether you have them separately or cooked together. Here’s how I would cook with champagne, of course you’re welcome to tweak the recipe to your liking and add, replace or remove some ingredients. This recipe calls for shrimp. You can replace the shrimps with other types of crustaceans like prawns, crabs, or lobster . You can also use scallops, mussels, clams, or other shellfish.

What you’ll need: (serves 4)

  • 24 pieces medium sized shrimp, peeled and deveined. You can keep the tails on or remove them. It’s really up to you.
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic. Use a little more if you love garlic.
  • Kosher salt for seasoning
  • White pepper
  • ¼ cup champagne
  • Half a stick of unsalted butter. Use 4 tablespoons EVOO instead if you’re health conscious. I prefer the taste of butter on this one though.
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions

How to cook it:

  1. Sauté the garlic in the butter. Use low fire as garlic tends to burn easily with butter.
  2. Add the shrimp before the garlic turns brown. Sauté a few seconds before adding any liquid.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Pour in the champagne and simmer (not boil).
  5. Add the chopped green onions.
  6. Simmer until the shrimps turn pink, stir occasionally.

Serve it in a one inch deep dish, and pour the sauce in. You can also serve it individually in champagne coupe glasses to add a little flair. Another option is to turn this recipe into pasta sauce by adding cream into it after step # 4. Adjust your seasoning if you add cream and serve with penne, spaghetti or linguine pasta. I suggest you try this first as an appetizer, and not as a pasta dish.

Always add alcohol in the earlier stages of cooking, never in the last few minutes or before you serve, to prevent it from tasting bitter or acidic. Lastly, cook with champagne that you like to drink, whether sweet or dry. Personally I prefer using Brut with a 0 to 12 grams per liter sugar content. If you don’t have any champagne on hand, you can substitute the champagne with white wine.

By the way, the word “champagne” can only be legally used for sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France. Other countries that produce champagne call it cava (Spain), spumante or asti (Italy), sekt (Germany), cap classique (South Africa), or simply sparkling wine.

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