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Family Central: A Bounty of Blood Oranges

Blood Orange CocktailEvery winter, I can’t wait until the day when the first shipment of blood oranges appears in the produce department at FRESH.

They are my favorite citrus fruit, and their short-lived season is usually too limited to meet my yearlong craving for these sweet, delicious oranges with dark red flesh and red-speckled skin.

The freshly-squeezed juice is sweeter than typical orange juice and has a slight berry flavor as well. Drink it, use it in salad dressing, add it to sauces or reduce to a syrup for cocktails or dessert.

Also known as Moro oranges, this crimson citrus becomes available in late December or early January and lasts through March. Their limited availability is because the variety relies on cool nights to develop their blood-red color.

Their skin will darken over time as the red juice from the interior begins to seep into the rind. As the color deepens, the flesh will become sweeter and juicier.

Look for blood oranges that are heavy for their size and firm to the touch. Avoid blood oranges that have spongy spots on the rind. For best results, store in the refrigerator for about two weeks.

Blood Orange Simple Syrup

1/2 cup honey
1 cup water
2 blood oranges, juice and zest

In a saucepan, combine the honey, water and blood orange zest. Bring to a simmer and stir until the honey dissolves. Remove from heat and let steep for 5 minutes. Stir in the blood orange juice and then strain the mixture into a clean, sealable container; chill. It can be stirred into sparkling wine, white wine, club soda or vodka. Serve with segments of blood oranges as garnish. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

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Citrus-Braised Chicken & Blood Oranges

2 large bone-in chicken breasts or 4 skinless thighs
salt and pepper, for seasoning
3 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
1 lemon, for juicing
4 blood oranges (3 sliced and 1 reserved for juicing)
1 Tbs Herbes de Provence
2 cups chicken broth, approximate

Rub the chicken with salt and pepper. Add oil to a wide-bottomed stockpot. Heat to high and sear the chicken until brown on both sides. Squeeze in the juice from the lemon and 1 blood orange. Add the wine and reduce by half. Add the broth and herbs; bring to a boil. Scatter the sliced blood oranges over the top. Cover and transfer to a 350° F oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or reduce heat to low and finish cooking on the stove. Keep an eye on the level of the liquid, and add more broth or water, if necessary. When the chicken is ready, remove to a serving plate. Spoon the sauce and blood orange slices over the top.

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Blood Orange Vinaigrette

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 blood oranges, juiced
1 tsp honey
1 tsp mustard
pinch of salt and black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil

Combine the vinegar, orange juice, honey, mustard, salt and pepper in a jar fitted with a lid. Shake to combine. Add the oil, replace lid and continue to shake. Funnel into a decorative salad dressing bottle. Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups.

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