The generic definition of Red Sicilian Tarocco Oranges (commonly known as blood oranges) is used to indicate the many varieties of oranges which were originally grown in the provinces of Catania, Enna and Syracuse. In cooking, chefs use the juice, flesh or even just the peel which is rich in essential oils to confer freshness and citrussy notes. However, blood oranges are mainly used for one of their essential flavours: acidity. The juice often regales recollections of mango and pineapple while the peel has slightly bitter and waxy notes recalling those of lavender.
Blood oranges are a natural mutation of oranges and their dark red flesh is due to the presence of anthocyanins, something normally found in flowers and fruit but uncommon in citrus fruits. Blood oranges are extremely high in vitamin C, up to 20% of the RDA, and are rich in dietary fibre.
Blood orange: classical pairings
Blood orange pair well with all types of less acidic fruit. These kind of fruits attenuate blood orange's tartness, therefore: apricots, figs, strawberries, lime, lemon, mango, apples, melon and peaches. A marriage with pineapple mitigates the sour and slightly sulphurous notes of this orange.
Blood orange and duck. This traditional recipe is part of our culinary heritage. However, orange is equally fond of other types of white meat, such as pork. Try coating roast pork joint with orange marmalade.
Blood orange and fennel or sweet red Tropea onions. This classical pairing can be found in the Mediterranean salad of sliced oranges and fennel. To make it for yourselves, just peel the orange down to its flesh, removing all the white pith, cut it into slices and serve with finely sliced onions and fennel, season with salt, extra virgin olive oil, and a very aromatic pepper.
Blood orange and chocolate. If the chocolate is dark and has a minimum content of 70% cacao, the combination between an acidic and a fatty element brings harmony and freshness to the palate.
Blood orange and almonds or hazelnuts. The roasted notes of dried fruit attenuate the acidity of the citrus fruit.
Blood orange and herbs. When the juice is emulsified with oil, salt, and pepper, this dressing is enhanced tenfold by the addition of chopped thyme, basil and mint.
Blood orange: original pairings
Blood orange and Arabica coffee. Thanks to its aftertaste of chocolate, roasted aromas and the floral/fruity hints of citrus fruits, Arabica coffee can lead to numerous harmonious pairings, often of a totally unexpected type. This is a well-known fact in Denmark, where they prepare a special Christmas liqueur called Julesnaps made from vodka, orange and coffee beans. Citrusy and bitter flavours get on well together and this is why orange loves coffee, but also Taggia olives. Besides, this was one of the pairings recommended by the Futurists.
Blood orange and crustaceans. The sweetness of this kind of seafood enhances the citrusy and slight sharpness of the oranges if used as a dressing.
Blood orange and asparagus. Because its sulphurous notes harmonise with oranges.
Blood orange and chilli pepper. If carefully dosed, chilli pepper enhances and adds character to every encounter. Blood orange also loves spices such as ginger, cardamom, aniseed, nutmeg and turmeric.
Blood orange and saffron. These precious pistils already contain citrusy notes and therefore harmonise beautifully. Try it on a risotto, on a dish of tagliatelle or artfully dosed in an unusual variant of tiramisù.
Blood orange and soft fresh goat’s cheese. Try this combination: fresh Chèvre + a slice of orange + a drop of honey. The relatively subtle yet sharp taste of the cheese enables the natural sweetness of the fruit to express itself marvellously. A trickle of honey plays down the combined bitterness of the cheese and its citrusy companion and acts as a 'glue' to hold them together on a cracker or piece of bread.
Blood orange: top chef pairings
There is no American or foodie who has not been inspired by Julia Child’s definitive recipe for duck in orange sauce, which became famous thanks to her cookery book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, published in 1961. At The Fat Duck Restaurant owned by Heston Blumenthal, it is accompanied by two jellies: orange and beetroot.
In pastry, the maximum expression of this fruit is that of Jean-Paul Hévin, a chocolatier in Paris with his legendary Mangu'in, a macaron filled with orange and mango ganache wedged between two mandarin orange-flavoured chocolate thins.
Francesco Mazzei serves a vibrant red orange salad with burrata to perfectly balance the creamy richness of this cheese specialty. On the other hand, chef Richard Corrigan of Mayfair restaurant incorporates red oranges in his starter of seafood, shrimps and black salsify. Spaghetti with cuttlefish, sepia ink and orange is the interpretation by Cristina Bowerman and, in Milan, Pietro Leemann of the starred restaurant Joia has added it to his Divertissement of vegetables and orange sauce.
In Yannick Allèno’s signature dish, the essential oils of this citrus fruit further enhance the whole Porcini mushroom caps, sauce en papillote, red wine sauce, juniper berries, lardons, and orange peel.
While they’re delicious simply juiced, there’s no shortage of pairings for blood oranges, as we’ve seen. During the holiday season, you may want to make dried orange slices to be used as decorations and garnishes, but they also make a healthy sweet to stave off sugar cravings. Here’s how to go about making your own. Tangy citrus is a great combination with creamy desserts, as in the case of this citrus tart with blood orange slices, a tasty alternative to Christmas pudding on the big day. Another creamy winter dessert, these vanilla creams sit on an orange layer and are topped with Brazil nuts.