Date night on the horizon? Leftover Champagne from new years eve? Want to use up that bottle you’ve had for ages?
It’s still dry January if you cook with it amirite?
Enter Bucatini (fancy spaghetti) with King Prawns in a champagne sauce. Think creamy white wine sauce, but way more fancy, way more delicious and totally unnecessary! Sounding good yet?
Bucatini is basically spaghetti that’s been to the gym. Spaghetti that lifts. It’s essentially a thicker spaghetti which is hollow – it has a tube running from one end to the other to allow all the delicious sauce to get inside. The good thing is you can buy it from most supermarkets nowadays, and it’s worth the extra penny’s.
A spaghetti like Bucatini deserves to be smothered in a proper sauce. Not just a simple tomato and basil this time. Now, we’re not above a classic tomato and basil, absolutely not! We love it, and we eat it… a lot. But date night deserves that something extra special, something to get the taste buds dancing, and something that isn’t cooked all that often. Enter Champagne and King Prawns. What. A. Combo.
First of all, don’t be put off by the Champagne. After all it’s date night, it’s a celebration, it’s supposed to be special. Buy a bottle if you don’t have one already, we had about half a bottle left over from a NYE spent in front of the TV. You cook with about 300ml and then it’s down to you and your date for the evening, be it your spouse, your dog, or cat, etc.. to drink the rest. Sod dry Jan, we’re in lockdown and we all need a pick me up.
What is the sauce and how do I make it?
This is a take on a classic white wine sauce that is finished with cream. It’s really quite simple with just a few key steps to follow, and is friendly to the novice chef. it’s all about timings, and if you prepare and measure all of your ingredients first you are likely to pul, this one out of the bag.
So, this recipe uses Champagne instead of white wine, good quality chicken stock, double cream, shallots, garlic and of course Parmesan cheese. After that it’s just a simple process of reducing them down and cooking them properly to produce a truly decadent sauce worthy of that special date.
First up is sweating the shallots. Sweat them low for about 5 minutes to soften and sweeten. Next up is the champagne. Pour all that champagne goodness into the pan, whack up the heat and reduce until syrupy. Third step is to add some chicken stock and reduce that down by about 3/4 of the volume. Throw in some prawns, finish with cream, cheese and herbs and there you have it. A decadent, creamy sauce that will is guaranteed to impress. Simple, no? Simple to you or not, follow the easy recipe steps below and you’ll be saying so. Guaranteed.
Date night has never been so delicious.
Date Night Bucatini with Champagne and King Prawns
- Pasta pot / Large Saucepan
- Frying Pan
- Wooden Spoon
- Sharp Knife
- Chopping Board
- 150 g Bucatini up to 200g for a larger portion (250 for EXTRA large!)
- 200 g Raw King Prawns
- 150 ml Double Cream
- 50 g Parmegiano Reggiano finely grated
- 300 ml Champagne
- 500 ml Chicken Stock avoid stock cubes
- 2/3 Small round shallots, finely diced or 1 banana shallot
- 4 Medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1 handful Fresh Parsely, leaves and stalks separated and finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Oil groundnut is good
- Measure out the chicken stock (if using jelly pot boil kettle etc..)
- Measure the wine
- Measure the cream
- Measure and prepare the prawns - remove the black vien, it will usually be running along the back of the prawn. Use a sharp knife and make an insition down the back from the top to the tail. Use the knife to hook the vein out and pull it out with your fingers. This is essential to remove that gritty texture you sometimes get.
- Grate the cheese using a fine grate and weigh it. Store in a bowl or on a plate ready.
- Dice the shallots and mince the garlic. Keep separate.
- Prepare the Parsely. Separate the leaves from the stalks. Finely chop the stalks, really fine. Delicately slice the leaves. Keep separate.
Making the Sauce
- Simultaneously get a frying pan on a medium low heat and a large sauce pan on a high heat filled with kettle water. Let the frying pan come to temperature for a couple minutes. Then add the oil. Get the water to a rolling boil, add 2 tsp of salt and then add the Bucatini. Cook for about 12-13 mintues. Set a timer, very important.
- Throw in the shallots to the frying pan and sweat down for a few minutes. Do not let them brown. If they begin to brown the pan is too hot. Take off the heat, turn the hob down and add back after say 30 seconds. Stir all the time.
- Using tongs, stir the pasta in the water to avoid sticking together and to the bottom.
- Add the parsely stalks and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Do not brown it.
- Add the champagne, turn up the heat up high and reduce until the champagne has a syrupy consistency.
- Stir the pasta again to avoid sticking. When your timer goes off check the bite to the pasta. Pull a piece out carefully and taste. If al dente, remove from the pan and drain. If not, cook for one more minute and check a piece once more. Repeat this until perfectly al dente and then remove and drain immediately. Coat in a little olive oil to stop sticking whilst you finish the sauce.
- Add the chicken stock to the reduced champagne. Reduce this down by about 3/4. Once reduced it should be a little thicker than water. It should also have changed in colour, it should be a deeper colour. Taste the reduction, it should taste strong, almost too strong.
- Turn the heat down to medium. Add the prawns here. Cook these until just turning pink on one side, turn over and cook until pink on the other side. At this point the prawns could release juices/water and make the reduction a bit watery. If so, remove the prawns from the pan using a slotted spoon and place into a cold bowl to slow the cooking process.Turn up the heat and reduce the liquid back down to the same consistency as before the prawns were added.
- With a nicely reduced liquid, turn the heat down low, remove the pan off the heat for 10-15 seconds and pour in the cream. Put back on the heat. Stir well.
- Allow the cream to reach a simmering point. As soon as it begins to bubble, remove from the heat.
- Add the prawns back in and coat well in the sauce to re-heat. Add most (but not all) of the cheese and stir well to melt fully. Add (most but not all of) the parsely and freshly cracked black pepper.Taste and check seasoning, it shouldn't need any here. But add if you think it needs it.
- To serve, add a portion of pasta to the saucepan you cooked the pasta in (ensure it's clean and empty of all water).
- To this pan add a generous amount of sauce. A small ladle full is a good guide. NOTE - this recipe makes more sauce than you may need. It can be sotred in the fridge and re-heated the next day.
- Mix together generously in the pan.
- Place into pasta bowls neatly using a ladle and tongs to twirl the pasta into a nest. Drop the ladle into the bowl and allow the pasta to slide onto the plate.
- Use the tongs to add an even amount of prawns on top of the pasta.
- Top with the rest of the cheese and some extra parsely.
- Serve with a glass of the champagne you cooked with and enjoy date night!
- This recipe is all about the layers. Cooking the onions, reducing the champagne, reducing the stock, cooking the prawns, adding the cream and finishing cheese and herbs. Spending time getting these layers right and you will have an incredible dish worthy of a restaurant table.
- Better ingredients = a better dish. Buy the best prawns you can. Fresh if possible and shells on too. You could use the shells to enhance the stock/champagne or make a bisque another day. Similarly, if you buy cheap Champagne the dish will taste cheap. If you won't drink it, don't cook with it. A good cheaper alternative is a good Prosecco, which is in keeping with the Italian theme!
- Keep an eye on the pasta whilst cooking the sauce. It's important to not overcook the pasta as it could become mushy. It's not a nice texture and the sauce may not cling to it quite as nicely.
- It's hard to make a plate of spaghetti look fancy, but try to use the ladle and tongs twirling trick to get some nice pasta nests going on your plate.
- Sprinkle with extra cheese and herbs. This doesn't necessarily enhance the taste too much, but it shows the person what they're eating. The visuals are as important as the taste.
- This recipe makes more sauce than you may need. It can be sotred in the fridge and re-heated the next day.