More Than Marmalade
While holidaying in Seville a few years ago, I was deeply disgruntled to discover that it is impossible to buy Seville oranges, even though the streets are lined with orange trees and the fruit is grown commercially outside the city. It seems that Sevillano cooks rarely use these tarter than tart fruit – if they need a squirt of juice to perk up a dish, they pluck an orange from a city tree. I have a delightful memory of harvesting one myself. I smuggled it home in my handbag and subsequently used it to stuff a spit-roasted duck.
Curiously, Seville oranges are grown purely for export, mainly to the UK. They arrive in the shops in January, greeted with open arms by a diminishing but stalwart band of marmalade makers. (It seems marmalade is perceived as 'old-fashioned', and consumption is on the wane.) Regardless of your take on marmalade, I encourage you to make the most of these rough-and-ready dimple-skinned fruits. Their season is short and they have uses far beyond marmalade.
Particularly lip-smacking is pork or chicken marinated in Seville orange juice, with garlic, cumin, a pinch of chilli flakes, a dash of cloves or allspice, and a little olive oil. Leave the meat to sit in the zesty mix for at last 2 hours, or overnight in the fridge, turning occasionally. Then roast or grill on skewers, gaucho-style, and serve with Cuban black beans.
Another favourite is a zinging Mexican chicken soup spiked with a squeeze of the juice, crushed cumin seeds, chopped chillies, tomatoes and coriander leaves. Sprinkle with tortilla chips and a dollop of soured cream just before serving.
If you are a ceviche fan, use the juice to 'cook' the freshest of fresh prawns or scallops. Slice the seafood into bite-sized pieces, add enough juice to cover, and leave to marinate for 1–2 hours. Drain, reserving the liquid, then mix with finely chopped chilli, red onion, coriander leaves and a sprinkling of sea salt flakes. Bubble down the liquid until syrupy, then pour over the seafood.
One of my favourite ways with Sevilles is to pickle them with sea salt and aromatic spices – take a look at my recipe Salted Sevilles with Star Anise, Coriander and Chilli. The resulting pickle is undeniably mouth-puckering but wonderfully refreshing at the same time. A dollop of it is gorgeous with grilled mackerel, and it cuts the fat wonderfully with roast pork, ham or a juicy duck breast. Do give it a try.
You'll find sweeter alternatives in my recipe archive: Candied Seville Orange Peel in Syrup and Seville Orange Ice Cream. The culinary possibiliti are endless.
© Christine McFadden, January 2023