Friday, March 27, 2009
Blood Oranges Caramel
Blood oranges possess a rare beauty that almost defies our senses. Ranging in color from vermilion to scarlet to deep crimson and more unusual in flavor than other citrus, blood oranges are among the best of the current crop of fresh fruit.
Blood oranges likely originated in the 19th century in Sicily and found their way to America sometime in the 1930's via the travels of immigrants from Italy and Spain. There are about three varieties but the Moro is the most commonly found in our regions. The exterior skin is often tinged with a dark red blush and the interior can sometimes be variegated. They are just stunning to slice into and the juice is deliciously bright. Having a blood orange will quench your every thirst.
Best enjoyed in their freshest simplicity, I decided to recline them in a bit of Blood Orange Caramel to echo another layer of relentless color that is riveting in its intensity and beauty. These jewels are definitely a supreme wonder of nature.
- As with any citrus fruit, select the ones that are heavy and thin skinned. They will be the juiciest.
- As the sugar for the caramel begins to darken, gently swirl the pan if it starts to color in just a few spots. This will help to evenly distribute the darker sugar so it cooks uniformly.
- Always use caution when making caramel. Hold the pan away when adding the liquid to avoid any splatters from hitting your skin. Caramel burns really hurt!
- You can add a drop of good balsamic vinegar to the caramel for more complexity. Start with just a tiny bit and keep tasting until you have the right balance of tart and sweet, avoiding what I call “throat burn” that will linger if you add too much acidity.
Blood Oranges Caramel
6 blood oranges
1 C sugar
1/4 C water
1/2 C fresh blood orange juice
Juice the oranges until you have 1/2 C juice. Peel the remaining oranges with a sharp knife, making sure to cut away the pith, and slice.
Combine sugar and water in heavy small saucepan over medium heat. Boil without stirring until it reaches a medium-dark amber color, occasionally brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystallization. Take off the heat just as it’s reaching the right color and carefully add the orange juice. The mixture will bubble vigorously. Stir over low heat until smooth. Cool completely.
Divide the orange slices among four plates and spoon the caramel over each.