The Best Citrus Makes a Big Difference

  
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Thanks for visiting The Bittman Project, a place where food is everything (or pretty close).


Before getting to today’s recipes, two things:

1) When we launched The Bittman Project we said that everything we published was going to be available to everyone (members and not) for free for the first two weeks. We lied. We’re making it three weeks. That means this is the last week that everyone gets full access. Starting in March, many of our recipes, videos, podcasts, and posts (and all of our Friday discussion threads) will be for members only. So, if you want to be a part of the community that gets everything we publish and helps us steer this ship, sign up for a membership. (There’s currently a special offer for $20 off, but it’s only good through the end of this week.)

2) I wanted to let you know that this Wednesday the 24th is the last day to order the Bi-Rite x Bittman California Citrus Experience Box. Sorry to everyone who’s heard this before, but for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s the gist:

Last year, I called my friend Sam Mogannam, who owns Bi-Rite Market, the fabulous grocery store in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood, and asked — really, this was a big favor — if we could try to figure out a way to fill a pre-paid USPS shipping box with the best California citrus and send it to my house. (We started with FedEx, which was prohibitively expensive and, incredibly, not as efficient.) 

It worked, so well, in fact, that they made the box available to everyone and brought it back again this year. It’s about 10 to 12 pounds of fresh California citrus (think mandarins, lemons, limes, oranges, quats, grapefruit) hand-picked and hand-packed by Bi-Rite’s produce team and shipped to your door. People have been going crazy for it, and it’ll only be around for two more days before the citrus season ends.

If you’re interested, you can order here, or by clicking the button below. Either way, this is the time to be cooking with citrus, so if you need some inspiration, check out the audio clip above and the recipes below.

GET THE BEST CITRUS IN THE U.S.


It’s inevitable: Some days you haven’t planned anything to cook, the afternoon sneaks up on you, and all you can do is throw your hands up and say, “Gahhhh! What’s for dinner?” For those times when you just need something fast, easy, and tasty, we’ve got you covered. Here are a few (citrus-centric) recipes to help you navigate this week.

Chard With Oranges and Shallots

Makes: 4 servings
Time: 25 minutes

A perfect winter dish with vibrant color and tangy sweet-sour flavor. The skin of the orange or tangerine becomes almost candied and provides a nice chew, but if you’d rather not eat it, simply peel before chopping. To make this dinner, serve with some crusty bread, or toss with a little pasta (if you’ve never had pasta with citrus before, you’re in for a treat; some grated Parmesan wouldn’t be a terrible idea, either).

Other vegetables you can use: any chard, bok choy, kale, or cabbage. For the citrus, use kumquats (quartered) if available.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chard, trimmed

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 shallots, halved and sliced

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 1 small orange or tangerine, seeded and coarsely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

1. Cut the stems out of the chard leaves. Cut the leaves into wide ribbons and slice the stems, on the diagonal if you like. Keep the leaves and stems separate.

2. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, add the shallots and sugar and cook for a minute, then stir in the orange or tangerine and adjust the heat so the vegetables sizzle gently. Cook, stirring frequently, until everything is caramelized, about 10 minutes. Stir in the vinegar.

3. Return the heat to medium and stir in the chard stems. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften a bit, a minute or 2. Add the chard leaves, cover, and turn off the heat. Let the chard steam for 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover, stir, and re-cover the pan for another couple of minutes. Sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper. Serve hot, or within an hour or two at room temperature.

— Recipe from How to Cook Everything: Completely Revised 20th Anniversary Edition

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Chicken With Citrus Sauce

Makes: 4 servings
Time: 20 minutes

Here’s a pan-cooked version of this delicious sweet-and-sour dish, which is prepared (often grilled) at roadside stands and restaurants on many Caribbean islands. Serve this with rice. (The rice pictured above is just long-grain white rice cooked with half coconut milk, half water; really a treat.)

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

  • Salt and black pepper to taste

  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced

  • 1 red onion, sliced

  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 2 tablespoons drained capers for garnish

Instructions

1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and cooked through, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper, about 10 minutes. Remove and place in your serving dish.

2.Add the garlic and onion to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the orange juice, lemon juice, lime juice, and honey. Cook only until the honey has completely dissolved, about 30 seconds.

3.Pour the onion-citrus mixture over the chicken, garnish with capers, and serve.

—Recipe from The Best Recipes In The World

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Grapefruit Salad

Makes: 2 servings
Time: About 15 minutes

My partner Rick is a baker and also a true minimalist: Like Mark, he believes when it comes to cooking, less is more. When he first made me this grapefruit side salad during citrus season, I was kind of taken aback at how simple it is. But especially with beautiful fruit and good olive oil, it’s revelatory. — Melissa

Ingredients

  • Two large grapefruits (the red ones are nice, but this recipe will work with any variety)

  • Salt

  • Olive oil

  • Freshly ground (coarse) black pepper or dried hot red pepper

Instructions

1. Peel and cut the grapefruit into supremes. If you know how to do this, skip this next part.

2. Peel the grapefruits by cutting off the tops and bottoms, set flat on a cutting board, and cut away all of the peel and pith without removing any flesh with a knife following the contours of the fruit.  With practice and a sharp knife, you should be able to have a perfectly round, peeled grapefruit with a slightly flat top and bottom with no traces of white pith.  Cut off any white pith that may remain.  

3. Hold the grapefruit in your non-dominant hand over a bowl to collect any juice that will run out in the process. Using the same knife, cut supremes from the grapefruit by cutting in between the membranes.  You should be able to get relatively even half-moon segments of fruit with no pith and no membrane.   

4. Place the segments into a dry bowl.  Squeeze the fleshy grapefruit mass in your hand into another bowl to extract all of the juice that’s left into the original bowl.  Drink the juice or save it for another use.  

5. Place your mostly dry grapefruit segments on a plate and dress with the best olive oil you can get.  Season with salt and either black or red pepper.  

Recipe from Rick Easton of Bread and Salt Bakery

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Bonus Recipe: Orange Confit

Makes: 16 servings
Time: 9 to 16 hours

Ok, so this is the exact opposite of a quick dinner recipe (it’s a slow dessert recipe), but it’s honest-to-goodness alchemy; plus, I talked about how amazing it is in the audio clip above, so how can I not share it here? You're taking pretty much everything in the orange except its form and replacing it with sugar, making even the peel edible. You can use this technique on all kinds of citrus. Blanching the fruit helps to remove the bitterness of the pith. Think of this as fresh orange candy or sugar in orange form.

Ingredients

  • 4 big navel oranges

  • 2 1/2 pounds sugar

Instructions

1. Fill a saucepan large enough to hold oranges with water; bring to a boil. Blanch oranges for 30 seconds, then remove, change water and repeat. Carefully quarter oranges through their poles. Return them to saucepan with half the sugar and water to cover. Bring to a boil, then cook over lowest possible heat, adding water as necessary to keep them covered. Cook for 8 hours, then remove from heat and let sit overnight.

2. Drain oranges and repeat process with remaining sugar and water to cover. Oranges are done when very tender but not falling apart, from 1 to 8 hours. Remove pot from heat and let cool, then refrigerate oranges with their syrup. Oranges will keep, refrigerated, for several weeks.

3. Serve an orange segment with a dollop of whipped cream (or a scoop of chocolate caramel mousse).

—Recipe adapted from Scott Carsberg

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