This might not be our most elegantly-titled post, but sometimes it’s good to be blunt about things. Nor is it a poetic ode to tangerines or the rest of the orange family; instead, it’s a brief and practical guide to things you can do with oranges that aren’t marmalade.
Two things we feel compelled to mention: firstly, we have nothing against marmalade. It’s glorious. We just feel as though the canon on marmalade-making probably doesn’t need adding to by us- ask your granny/neighbour/pam the jam for their best recipe, and you’ll be in safe hands. Secondly, we’re aware that we like to pipe on about ‘eating local’ quite a lot, and appreciate that you don’t tend to see ‘sumas being harvested on these shores too often. They are, however, seasonal within their individual varieties- Valencia oranges are one of the few Summer season citrus fruits. The vast majority actually reach their peak during the winter months, and provide a pretty welcome spike of flavour in amongst all the root veg and brassicas we associate with these darker, greyer days. As such, to ignore them on the basis we can’t cultivate them in the UK feels a bit like looking a gift horse in the mouth. A winter without tangerines, blood & Seville oranges hardly bears thinking about… or so we think, anyway.
And so, here it is- an frustratingly vague list of some things you might want to do with oranges that perhaps you hadn’t thought about:
Chicken, or any other poultry you might have to hand
This is hardly mind-blowing gastronomy, but it’s worth a reminder- lemon might be the obvious bedfellow for a chicken, but orange (or clementine) can work in much the same way, evoking Mediterranean, homely vibes. But take it in an entirely different direction- seek inspiration from the East, and combine with ginger, or anise, or pink peppercorn. Or, look towards South and Central America: ‘pollo asado’ is a glorious Mexican dish that makes the most of their smoky chillis, and will probably help wake up your taste buds after the relentless richness of all the Christmas fare.
We’ll spare you a lengthy guide on pickling, here. Instead: any of the pickles you might routinely make, consider adding in some finely shredded orange zest. It gives depth to a piccalilli, and spike to anything lighter. We put some into our pickled fennel, along with pink peppercorn, which we then heap onto burrata. What *doesn’t* sound great about that?
On a similar vein, we’ll just politely suggest that you consider adding a little zest to your next baking foray; it’s unlikely to upset the chemistry at work in a cake recipe, so feel free to work with any tried-and-tested favourites. It works fantastically with anything chocolate/rye/ginger based, but also any lighter sponges- particularly if almonds get a look in.
Controversially, we believe salads have the power to really come into their own during the winter months. December to March see the arrival of the best salad leaves- think radicchio varieties (especially tardivo), castelfranco lettuce, chicory… frankly a limp and tasteless iceberg shouldn’t get a second thought, and a winter leaf salad makes a far more vibrant side to a heavy slow cook than your standard boiled or buttered green. These varieties look as stunning as they taste, and all pair phenomenally with winter citrus fruit. Blood orange is our favourite, but the (technically non-orange) pink or ruby grapefruit should get an honourable mention, for sake of balance.
Oily fish (mackerel, trout, salmon), or shellfish (particularly scallops) all marry very nicely. The latter two also benefit from a nice injection of chilli at the same time, if you’re that way inclined.
Ah, this one is no secret. But a handy little tip to inject extra flavour into your roasted carrots on a Sunday: par boil them in squeezed OJ with any aromats or woody herbs you have to hand, before draining and finishing off in the oven with all the other malarkey. Win.
Negroni(s… because it’s never just one)
We would be utterly remiss in not mentioning a lata favourite- equal parts gin (pick a local favourite), sweet vermouth and campari, stirred with ice, poured over fresh ice, and garnished with a neat wedge of blood orange. Now what on God’s green earth could be a happier place than that?
Here’s to January… it ain’t all bad 😉