– Mandarin marmalade gets a little kick from Campari. Huzzah! –
Recently, someone asked me how I came up with my now infamous recipe for mandarin marmalade with Campari. The truth is, it took me a while to get into cooking with liquor. Sure I’d add a little wine to sauces or vodka to my pie crust, but as far as cooking with spirits goes, it took me a while to jump on the bandwagon. I’m just not a big drinker. And honestly, I didn’t see the need to add yet another set of ingredients to my already packed pantry.
Eventually, on my never ending quest for flavor, I got curious about adding booze to recipes where they might not be expected. It started with a little bourbon in my caramel-y mashed yams, then expanded to adding sweet vermouth to braising liquid for chicken. As it turns out, cooking with spirits is a lot of fun. I got more creative as I got more comfortable, coming up with recipes like tequila sunrise marmalade with clementine oranges and cranberries. At that point it became sort of an obsession to think of ways to add a few teaspoons of complimentary liquor to whatever simple dish I was working on, with the goal of it flying just under the radar of whomever might be tasting.
I left my boozing and schmoozing days back in my early 20s, but these days I’m smitten with the way alcohol adds some much-needed complexity to many dishes. The key is to maintain a light hand and let most of the alcohol flavor cook off before serving. Unless the booze is the star of the show, it pays to be conservative with how much you add to your recipe. If done right, those eating your dish will only notice a something compelling they can’t quite place. The last thing you want is someone pointing out, “Hey, how much whiskey did you add to this?”
Here’s another example of a liquor where you might not expect to find it. This gently bitter mandarin marmalade balances sweet Mandarin oranges and lemon verbena’s signature sunny, floral notes with a blush of Campari, which lends a nice bite to the sweet citrus. This soft, comforting marmalade is perfect for spicing up your morning toast or afternoon yogurt.
Mandarin Marmalade with Lemon Verbena & Campari
- 5 pounds Mandarin oranges scrubbed clean
- 3 tablespoons lemon verbena leaves dried or fresh
- 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 6 oranges)
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 2 medium lemons)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/4 cup Campari
- 4 cups sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon butter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Place a small ceramic plate in the freezer so you can test the jam for proper thickness. Sterilize your jars and lids.
- Use a zester to remove the zest from the Mandarin oranges. Add the zest to a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Remove the remaining peels from the oranges and wrap them in cheesecloth, along with the lemon verbena leaves, and secure with butcher's twine. Add to the pot along with the zest.
- Separate the orange segments and remove the seeds. Using a sharp chef’s knife, chop the orange slices into coarse chunks about 1/4-inch across. Add the chopped oranges to the pot with the zest and peels.
- Add the orange juice, lemon juice, and water to the pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn heat to low and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool somewhat. Once cool enough to handle, remove the bag of peels from the pot and gently squeeze the loose juice from the bag. Do not squeeze the bag too much or try to wring it out, which will make the Mandarin marmalade too bitter. Just release any excess juice absorbed by the peels and then discard the bag.
- Return pot to medium heat. Add Campari, sugar, butter, and salt to the pot. Stir well to combine. Once the fruit begins to bubble and spit, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes longer, stirring every few minutes to keep the fruit from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- At the 30-minute mark, begin testing the marmalade for doneness. Spread 1/2 teaspoon of marmalade on the cold plate and place it back in the freezer. Wait 30 seconds, then run your finger through the marmalade. It should be thick enough to maintain a path when you run your finger through it. If you’d like thicker Mandarin marmalade, place the plate back in the freezer, cook the fruit for another 4 minutes and test again. Repeat until the marmalade is your desired thickness, though be careful about cooking too long or your Mandarin marmalade will taste overcooked. Remember, the goal is for jam to taste at least somewhat of fresh fruit!
- Remove the pot from the heat and use a spoon to skim any foam from the surface of the marmalade. Ladle marmalade into sterilized jars and process them in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Unopened jars will keep at room temperature for up to 6 months. Opened marmalade should be refrigerated and will keep for up to 2 weeks.
*I prefer adding the orange zest for a touch of texture, but feel free to leave it out if you want a smoother marmalade. Nutritional analysis does not include the lemon verbena leaves.
This content was originally posted on FearlessFresh.com.