Cognac Orange Cream Sauce

Cognac Orange Cream Sauce

Years ago, and when I say that, I mean more than a decade, me and my friends would go out and spend money in fancy restaurants we could not afford.  I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the one restaurant, but all I know this dish, back then, was about $50, that would probably translate into about $75-100 today.  It was lobster with a orange cognac cream sauce. It was basically lobster tail meat diced into cubes and service with this delicious sauce.  Sure, amongst 5-7 of us, we each got 2 pieces, but we ordered this as an appetizer.  It was worth it, unless of course you knew how to make it.

The problem is, NO one I know can make a good spicy orange sauce anymore, not even the Chinese restaurants.  Maybe I am not dining in the right places, but with the economy the way it is, I am lucky I can afford to buy food, let alone dine out every night of the week.  So, with some research online, I found the best recipe from FoodTV’s Rachel Ray who got it from a restaurant in Lake Placid, NY from Master Chef Claude Gaucher of Veranda Restaurant.  So, he deserves credit for this, but here is my version based on his, because I wasn’t about to buy/cook a meal for 4 as an experiment.

So basically, you have to have 2-3 pots on the stove.  The original recipe serves it in a puff pastry but since this has Asian influences (orange, shitake mushrooms, etc).  I decided to serve it over rice.  So, you have one pot of white rice cooking, in a pan your sauce and in a third pan a place to cook your shrimp or lobster.  For me, everything takes place in 2 pans or less.  Usually pasta boiling in a pot and a pan for the sauce, meat, vegetables and/or seafood.  I am one of those people that feels simplicity is a sign of perfection, and in the true Italian approach, the simpler, the better.  But once you start getting into the foods of other cultures, especially French and/or Asian, you are going to have to learn to multi-task when it comes to cooking.

Here is how I did it.  In one pot we have the white rice cooking. I would have preferred a firm steamed white rice, but I instead cooked some Carolina white rice in chicken broth.

In a pan, I was making the orange sauce.  2 cubes of sugar and juice of 1 fresh orange, cooked down till it was basically a syrup, barely any liquid.  I then added in the cognac, chicken stock and heavy cream and let it cook down more.

In a separate pan I had olive oil, shallots, good Greek oregano (since I didn’t have tarragon), and sliced shitake mushrooms. Once that was going, I added in rock shrimp and allowed them to cook.  They cook fairly quickly and have the texture and taste of a cross between lobster and shrimp.  So before they were done cooking, that is when I add in the orange cognac sauce from the other pan.  I plate the rice and pour the shrimp with orange sauce over the rice.

Here is what I will do differently the next time to serve 2 people:

SAUCE:
– Juice of oranges, approximately 1/4 cup
– Double shot of Cognac (4cl or 3 oz)
– Additional double shot of Cointreau Orange Liquor
– 1/4 cup Chicken broth
– 3 Sugar Cubes
– Salt & Pepper

For this I would combine ALL ingredients at once, and allow to reduce to an almost syrup like consistency, and give more time for the alcohol to cook out.  I don’t think the cream is necessary, for me, I rather have it more syrup/sweet, even spicy than smooth.  And for that reason I would ditch the cream and add in chile pepper flakes.

SHRIMP or LOBSTER:
– Olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan
– 1 small or half large shallot chopped/chopped
– Dried oregano to taste
– 4 Dried Shitake Mushrooms, reconstituted with hot water or chicken broth for at least 20-30 mins, sliced into very thin slivers
– 1/2 lb of rock shrimp over using ONLY shrimp or ONLY lobster… rock shrimp were created for this dish.

Once both pans have cooked, I would serve this over steamed white rice rather than home cooked rice. One last thought I think the rice should be the “bed” for the rock shrimp instead of it being a “cake” in the center of the dish.  I think this is great if you can get a bite of shrimp, mushroom and rice in every bite, rather than shrimp and pick at the cake of rice… this makes the dish more Asian than anything else, which is what I was hoping for.

The updated photos, recipes, ingredients and measures will be updated soon!

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