Instead of grating the peel of your orange or throwing it away, try grilling it. The fruit becomes intensely juicy and flavorful, slices take on a beautiful char, and the natural bitterness mellows and deepens into something much more complex. Squeeze over grilled fish or chop for a carne asada-style marinade or bold vinaigrette.
Fresh oranges are prized for their pulp—a sweet, bright note to combat the winter blues. The peel is usually too tough and a bit bitter to eat on its own, which is why you often see it candied or grated into marinades, glazes, and vinaigrettes. Throw whole slices on the grill, however, and you’ve got a game changer. The peel becomes pliable and tender, the sharp bitterness mellows and mingles with the smoky char, and the fruit gives up its concentrated juices more easily. The natural oils in the peel also intensify over the flame for a “turned up to eleven” citrus flavor.
Chef and Mad Delicious author Keith Schroeder grills the short ribs for his Short Ribs with Cucumber and Orange Salad over low heat, then cranks up the heat for charring slices of fresh navel orange, peel and all. This adds a “scraggy textural contrast,” Schroeder says, and makes the salad less dainty. That bold, slightly bitter citrus is exactly what’s needed to cut through the rich meat.
Chef Drew Curren of Elm Restaurant Group in Austin, TX gives his Shrimp with Grilled Citrus and Leek Relish a triple dose of orange, a fantastic way to brighten midwinter meals. He chars orange, lemon, and lime slices on the grill until tender and caramelized, then uses the pulp and juice for a simple vinaigrette.
To char the orange peel, cut a large orange crosswise into thick slices. Arrange slices in a grill pan or on a grill rack over high heat. Cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until lightly charred and caramelized, turning carefully with tongs or a spatula. Cool slightly before squeezing or chopping. Use in vinaigrettes, seafood or meat marinades.