I finally broke down and paid $10 for a pinch of saffron at the market. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had it in my hand and wondered if the cost really justified the flavor. Would it really add that much of a difference to my recipe? When I saw this Ale Poached Shrimp in Saffron Cream Sauce recipe over at Food and Wine, I knew it was time to break the bank and give it try. Just like the $600 I spent on Rolling Stones Tickets, let me say this, it was worth every single penny.
This is one of those very special recipes. Every bite was a treat. The cream sauce is simmered and reduced using chicken broth and saffron. The end result is rich, savory and elegant. Wonderful to be exact. Dragging each shrimp and each bite of asparagus through the silky cream leads to a delightful pairing of flavors. The recipe indicates to pour the cream sauce through a sieve before serving. I didn’t do that and we didn’t notice anything but good.
The shrimp is simply poached in Belgium Leffe Blond Ale. This ale is stunning in color and fresh and fruity in flavor, adding a nice zing to the shrimp. Opening another bottle while the meal was cooking, we sipped. Both of us thought it was one of the best beers we’ve ever had. Here’s a description from Leffe’s website:
While this is a perfect aperitif beer, it also tastes delicious with a wide variety of dishes, especially red meat, sweet and sour dishes and white mould cheese, such as Camenbert, Brie, Brillat-Savarin or Saint-Marcellin. There are countless soft-centred cheeses that are a good match for the fresh and fruity Leffe Blond. Leffe Blond contains 6.6% alcohol and is best served at 5-6°C in a beer chalice, which will allow all the flavours to come through.
Back to the meal, we loved every special bite. You may want to consider this one for Valentine’s Day.
- 1 T. unsalted butter
- 1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 green onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
- 2 C. heavy cream
- 2 C. Chicken Broth
- Pinch of saffron threads
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Two 12-ounce bottles Belgian-style blond ale, such as Leffe
- 1¼ pounds shelled and deveined large shrimp, tails left on
- 1 pound thick asparagus—woody ends trimmed, tips halved lengthwise and stalks thinly sliced crosswise
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter in the extra-virgin olive oil. Add the green onions and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the heavy cream, chicken stock and saffron and bring just to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is reduced to 1¾ cups, about 15 minutes. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve into a small saucepan and season with salt and pepper. Keep the saffron sauce warm over low heat, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, in a large, deep saucepan, bring the ale just to a simmer. Add the shrimp and poach over moderate heat until they are just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a plate, pat dry and season with salt and pepper.
- In a medium saucepan of salted boiling water, blanch the asparagus pieces until they are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the asparagus to paper towels to drain.
- Spoon the saffron sauce into shallow bowls, top with the blanched asparagus and poached shrimp and serve.
Ale Poached Shrimp in Saffron Cream Sauce…It’s what’s for a Special Dinner.