The much acclaimed Israeli oranges, grapefruit and lemons are finally appearing at the markets. I remember when my grandparents would buy a box of Jaffa oranges or receive them as a gift. Carefully boxed and individually wrapped in paper, I knew these oranges must be something special because Harry and David’s Fruit of the Month Club fruit that was wrapped in paper was the cream of the crop. They were the best oranges I had ever tasted. Don’t get me wrong, I also like Valencia and Sicilian citrus, but there is something special about Israeli citrus. Borrowing from a Florida citrus ad, “They are like sunshine in my mouth!”.
I am very fortunate to live in an area that is full of citrus groves. In fact, apart from the thousands of acres of cultivated citrus, there are wild trees lining the road to our moshav from which we can pick fruit freely without taking income away from our neighbors, and the fact that these trees don’t get any artificial irrigation actually makes the taste of fruit more concentrated, although they usually ripen later than the ones that are irrigated.
Mr. BT brought me a present of a couple of dozen oranges and grapefruits last week, which inspired me to make the following. I served it with roasted cauliflower and potatoes. I love this dish because it brings the wonderful aroma of citrus groves into your home.
(Roasted Chicken with Orange, Grapefruit, Lemon and Ginger) Adapted from Cucina Ebraica: Flavors of the Italian Jewish Kitchen by Joyce Goldstein
1 roasting chicken, about 2kg (5 pounds)
Grated zest of 1 small grapefruit, then grapefruit cut into quarters
Grated zest of 1 orange, then orange cut into quarters
3 tablespoons peeled and grated fresh ginger root
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons honey
Orange sections for garnish
Preheat an oven to 180C (350F).
Cut the lemon into quarters. Rub the outside of the chicken with one of the lemon quarters, then discard. In a small bowl, stir together the lemon and orange zests and 1 tablespoon of the grated ginger. Rub this mixture evenly in the cavity. Put the lemon and orange quarters inside the bird. Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper.
Combine the olive oil, lemon and orange juices, honey, and the remaining 2 tablespoons ginger in a small bowl. Mix well.
Place the chicken in the oven and roast, basting with the citrus juice mixture at least 4 times during cooking, until the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced with a knife, about 1 hour.
Transfer to a serving platter and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Carve the chicken. Garnish with orange sections.
Variation: Use 4 tablespoons pomegranate juice in place of the lemon juice.