We couldn’t go through an entire February in France without at least some mention of beurre blanc.
Bits of butter are gradually whisked into an acidic reduction of white vinegar, wine, and/or lemon juice. The end result is a rich, creamy sauce loaded with flavor. In France they might add it to anything from a clean, simply-prepared fish to a breakfast of poached eggs and asparagus.
Beurre blanc translates literally to “white butter.” I’ve recently learned that this is because the delicate sauce is meant to keep its lighter color rather than to be browned. (I don’t think I followed the rules last year when I made it for Valentine’s Day last year over scallops – still, it was delicious.)
Butter is basically a combination of fat and water, so the secret of making a proper beurre blanc lies in helping the butter to preserve its makeup. This is done by slowly whisking the butter into the acidic reduction, bit by bit. When I first started cooking, I never understood why some recipes (particularly in baking) added these extra steps. Why shouldn’t I add the entire stick of butter (or two!) at once? Very rarely do recipes explain things like this in detail; instead, I often find myself researching and googling to figure out why I just did whatever I did. If I ever write a cookbook, I will be sure to explain as many intricacies or backstory on the process as I can, so that people can learn – and until then, I will include it here for you on this blog!
This recipe is special, to say the least. You’ll need a lot of champagne, and even more butter. The end result is something spectacular. The clean, fresh flavor of the marinated shrimp pairs so well with the richness of the sauce, and the herbs bring more of that freshness back into the dish at the end.
And though the shrimp look beautiful as served in the above photo, it’s also a bit of a pain to set them all up this way. Don’t feel like you have to – we didn’t. Just pile them onto a plate (with plenty of crusty bread) and dig in!
Marinated Shrimp with Champagne Beurre Blanc
From Bon Appétit
- 2 cups champagne or dry sparkling wine
- 1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
- 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar or other white wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 cup champagne or other dry sparkling wine
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons minced shallots
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 24 extra-large uncooked shrimp (about 2 pounds), peeled with tail left intact, deveined
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
For sauce base:
Combine champagne, shallots, vinegar, and peppercorns in heavy medium saucepan. Boil until reduced to 1/4 cup liquid, about 20 minutes. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.)
Combine champagne, olive oil, shallots, and ground pepper in resealable plastic bag. Add shrimp to bag and seal; shake bag to coat shrimp evenly. Marinate shrimp at room temperature at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour, turning bag occasionally. Mix chives, tarragon, and parsley in small bowl.
Preheat broiler. Spray broiler pan with nonstick vegetable oil spray. Drain shrimp; discard plastic bag with marinade. Arrange shrimp on prepared pan in single layer. Broil shrimp until just opaque in center, about 2 minutes per side. Stand 3 shrimp, tails upright, in center of each plate.
Rewarm sauce base over medium-low heat. Whisk in butter 1 piece at a time, just allowing each to melt before adding next (do not boil or sauce will separate). Season beurre blanc to taste with salt and pepper.