Late last year I visited France and found that lobster was on every menu we enjoyed in Bordeaux, it was everywhere…along with duck. I love lobster, but if it isn’t cooked exactly right it can be the toughest protein around. This rich, decadent, expensive, luscious shellfish can go from silky and sublime to hockey puck like toughness with the slightest bit of overcooking. So, if you even think about overcooking it (or even if it just happens because you are mixing your aperitif cocktails as the lobster is poaching) your dinner party may be ruined…hampering both your celebration and your pocketbook.
So, I opted for shrimp instead in this light, juicy and delicious shellfish starter inspired by some of the poached lobster I enjoyed while in France.
Additionally, I love a good Champagne cocktail any time of day, in any time of year, mixing my favorite sparkling wine with a sweet and spicy liqueur to toast the day. With this inspiration, I found adding a touch of juicy, sweet and still slightly bitter orange Cointreau to poaching shrimp adds a new layer of citrus filled flavor with the sparkling wine. Finish with a touch of butter with orange and chives, and serve on a bed of bitter greens and you have an ideal, elegant first course.
Champagne and Cointreau Poached Shrimp with Orange, Chive Butter
1 pound 15-20 count shrimp — peeled, deveined and tails removed
2 cups sparkling wine
1/2 cup Cointreau
1/2 lemon, sliced into 1/3 inch rings
2 oranges – 1 sliced in half; 1 sliced into 1/3 inch rings
1 tangerine, segmented
2 sprigs fresh mint, basil and parsley
1 tablespoon peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons minced chives, plus more for garnish
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and pepper
1 bunch organic arugula, stems removed and lightly torn
1 avocado, diced
1 tablespoons fruity olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Bring 1 cup water, sparkling wine, Cointreau, orange slices (the sliced orange cut into 1/3 inch slices, peppercorns, red pepper flakes, lemon, mint, parsley and basil to a low boil in a deep, shallow pan over a medium heat on the stove. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Add the shrimp as the mix comes to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Shrimp will be cooked through, or close enough, as you will finish the shrimp in orange butter right before plating.
As mix is coming to a boil whisk the mustard, oil, 1 tablespoon chives, vinegar and juice of 1/2 whole orange together , season lightly with salt and pepper and set aside. When ready to plate add the butter, 1 tablespoon chives and juice of 1/2 orange together in a pan and bring to a quick boil, slightly browning the butter. Toss the shrimp in the butter and quickly sear, then quickly remove the shrimp. Toss the arugula with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil dressing. Plate the greens on 4 plates and top with tangerine segments and a bit of avocado. Top with several pieces of the butter seared shrimp. Drizzle slightly with remaining dressing and garnish with the pomegranate segments.