- Chefs told Insider leftover Champagne and sparkling wines can be repurposed in food recipes.
- So I used Champagne in a risotto recipe from chef and Food Network personality, Giada De Laurentiis.
- The less-carbonated Champagne helped create a creamy texture and sharp flavour in the Italian dish.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
It can be tempting to throw out Champagne as the carbonation falls flat and it’s no longer drinkable, but chefs told Insider there are tons of delicious â€” and cost-savvy â€” ways to use the bubbly in food recipes.
“Now that it’s just flat wine, it may not be good for drinking. It may not give you the same flavour that you’re looking for in a good drinking wine, but in cooking, it still has so much value,” chef Adrienne Cheatham, a “Top Chef” finalist from season 15, told Insider.
To test the suggestion, I used my leftover Champagne from New Year’s Eve to cook a warm Champagne risotto recipe by chef Giada De Laurentiis.
Here’s how my experience using leftover Champagne in cooking panned out.
I visited my local wine shop ahead of New Year’s Eve to pick out a nice Champagne
If you’re going to use Champagne, which is sparkling wine that comes specifically from the eponymous French wine region, or any other type of sparkling wine in your meals, chef Palak Patel noted it’s important to pick a brand you enjoy.
“If you like the flavour of the bottle when you’re drinking it, once you cook with it and it evaporates, the flavour just gets a little intense,” Patel, winner of “Chopped” and “Beat Bobby Flay,” told Insider.
“If you didn’t like drinking it, don’t cook with it, because the flavour is more pronounced once it reduces on,” she said.
With that in mind, I searched the wine shop aisles for a Brut Champagne devoid of sweetness.
While I’m not normally picky when it comes to alcoholic beverages, I prefer my Champagne to be dry. Plus, I worried that a sparkling wine bogged down in sugar, like rosÃ©, would add an unwanted tang to the recipe.
I decided on Magic Door’s la Cle de La Femme Champagne, which cost $US31 at my store, and we drank some of it on New Year’s Eve.
The remaining Champagne lost some fizz after New Year’s Eve, so I prepped my recipe to make use of the leftover bubbly
By the time New Year’s Day arrived, the Champagne had flattened but still had hints of carbonation. Not quite drinkable anymore, but perfect to use in cooking, according to the chefs we spoke with.
The recipe from De Laurentiis, which took around one hour to make, was pretty simple and called for 10 ingredients in total.
You can check out the full recipe here.
I finely chopped one shallot, cut 12 asparagus spears diagonally, and unwrapped two packages of prosciutto â€” a personal favourite of mine. In fact, one reason I chose De Laurentiis’ recipe over others was the use of prosciutto as a garnish.
De Laurentiis’ recipe only called for four slices, but I doubled the amount to eight, because why not?
I also measured out three cups of chicken broth, two tablespoons of butter, Â¾ cup of Champagne, and Â¾ cup of Arborio rice, a medium-grain rice that is commonly used to make risotto.
I started by baking the prosciutto, but the slices burned a bit on my first try
After setting my oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, I attempted to lightly grease my baking sheet with butter and spaced out eight slices of prosciutto.
According to De Laurentiis’ recipe, the slices needed to bake between six and eight minutes until they were almost crisp, then allowed to cool. She noted that once out of the oven, the prosciutto slices would continue to crisp in the open air.
I baked the first batch of prosciutto for six minutes, but even before the timer went off I caught whiffs of burnt meat. I opened the oven to find my prosciutto certainly crispy but shriveled along the edges with some pieces caked onto the baking sheet.
As a prosciutto lover, I was not about to throw away some good â€” albeit singed â€” slices of my favourite charcuterie-board meat. Instead, I re-greased the baking sheet with less butter, placed new slices on top, and put them in the oven for only four minutes.
That time, the prosciutto emerged from the oven crisp but still flavorful, so the issue seemed to be that I’d overdone it with the butter the first time.
Next, I blanched the asparagus spears in chicken broth
In one pan, I brought the chicken broth to a boil and blanched the asparagus in it for two minutes.
This was my first time blanching vegetables, or boiling them for a short time before putting them in cold water to quickly stop the cooking process, and I was instantly intrigued.
After boiling for two minutes, per the instructions, my asparagus spears were a beautiful green and had a firm, fresh crunch to them.
Compared to using a microwave, like I normally would for my veggies, blanching gave them an extra lift and there weren’t any soggy bites.
The pan of chicken broth was left to simmer while I turned my attention to the Champagne.
I combined my Champagne with the Arborio rice
In a second pan, I melted one tablespoon of butter and added the shallots, cooking until they were tender, or about three minutes. The Arborio rice was added into the same pan, where I constantly stirred for another three minutes.
Finally, the time to add Champagne to my risotto arrived.
Taking Â½ cup of La Cle de la Femme, I added the Champagne to the shallots, butter, and rice in the pan, where it simmered for about four minutes before evaporating.
From there, I added a Â½ cup of the remaining chicken broth to the Arborio rice and Champagne combination, which helped soften the hard grains. Between the chicken broth and dry Champagne, the smell overtook my small apartment.
Once absorbed, the recipe said to continue to add Â½ cups of the chicken broth to the risotto, letting each addition absorb before adding the next.
While I stirred, the rice soaked up the remaining chicken broth and became creamy
This was my first time making risotto, and although I was told it’s a fairly simple dish, I knew there was one surefire way to derail it.
“You don’t want a completely mushy grain. You still want the grain to hold its texture so you can see it, but be saucy enough so that it feels like a comforting rice dish,” Patel told me, referring to her own tomato risotto recipe.
“That’s why the stirring and being gentle to the risotto rice is more important than if you’re stirring a regular pot of anything else. You don’t want to mash it up. It’s a delicate grain, and the idea is to see the grain when it comes to your plate,” she added.
Although I was instructed to stir the risotto constantly, I kept an eye on the grains to make sure they didn’t deflate into a pseudo-porridge.
Unfortunately, midway through the cooking process I accidentally spilled some of the simmering chicken broth and was forced to make do with some water. I only added Â½ cup in the off-chance the water would dilute the risotto’s flavour.
After about 20 minutes, the risotto took on a creamy texture, and, perhaps prematurely, I removed it from the stovetop.
Although it could have been creamier, the finished product was delicious â€” and a perfect meal to ease my New Year’s hangover
Following De Laurentiis’ suggestion, I seasoned my finished risotto with salt and pepper, then added the prosciutto, asparagus, and parmesan cheese to the meal. Once plated, I dove right in.
On my first bite, I couldn’t directly taste the Champagne’s flavour, but the dish did have a noticeably sharp taste from the Champagne reduction. The chicken broth added a familiar warmth to the risotto, and the asparagus lent a nice crunch.
All in all, I was pleased with the Champagne risotto and it definitely helped ease any remnants of my hangover that evening â€” plus I felt good about not wasting any of my leftover bubbly!
Next time, though, I’d add a bit more chicken broth to the risotto and stir even longer for a creamier finish.