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Lovely Murcott Tangerines


For weeks I’ve been meaning to write a post about these lovely Murcott tangerines, but before I did, we ate what was on the table. In fact, I’ve gone back to the same store 3 or 4 times to buy a bagful, thinking this time I would surely use in a new marmalade, or as part of a salad, or some other recipe I could share, and yet, I got busy–there were kids to feed, other stories to write, taxes to deal with, and actual paid work to be done. Truth be told, they are perfect just as they are.

If you don’t know much about Murcotts, they are the season’s late bloomers; small, thin skinned tangerines, easily peeled, few seeds, with a deep orange flesh that is more sweet than tart and packs a punch when eaten. This little dandy is a cross between a tangerine (from Morocco) and a sweet orange, thought to have been developed in Florida by a Mr. Murcott in the early 19oo’s, also known as honey tangerines in some markets. But don’t confuse them with Florida honey tangerines, which tend to be a little larger and rounder and don’t have the “bright” flavor of these, smaller California ones.

At any rate, Murcotts are the perfect pick me up mid-morning or just before bed–a night-cap–as I have taken to eating them, and would add pazazz to just about any dish. Try a splash of their juice in a glass of bubbly water, or peel then slice the flesh into thin rounds and pair with shaved fennel and mâche, drizzled with a bit of walnut oil, for a delicious salad. Even simpler, set out on a platter with almonds, oil-cured olives and a smear of goat cheese–in fact, they were quite scrumptious noshed with a bit of salty Parmesan that I had lying about.

For something a little more finessed, pair with the flavors of Morocco as 5-Second Rule did in a rustic grain salad with garbanzos and pine-nuts, or go for gold and zest the peel of a few of these beauties, then pound with several garlic cloves and a smattering of fresh savory and sage to flavor a porchetta (slow-cooked pork belly), similar to what I inhaled this past Monday night during a butchery class at Cafe Rouge, a charming Mediterranean style restaurant and charcuterie in Berkeley’s 4th Street corridor. The sunny tang and lingering fragrance of the orange and herbs with succulent, wild beast is a combination that I just can’t get shake from my taste memory and begs to be repeated. Encore, I say.

pig_13And by the way, Cafe Rouge is offering a series of monthly Art of Butchery classes, on a Monday night. $65 gets you wine, tastings of the recipes, and a chance to meet the ranchers who harvest the meat.

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  1. Nani. you know how to draw the reader into your kitchen, draw up a chair and have a tasting time.
    Love the way you present food, and express your passion for its goodness, and its beauty.
    Voila! Encore! Bravo!

  2. Wow, what a great post! I will have to look for these specific tangerines at my market. I love all of your suggestions on ways to use them – so many ideas! I especially like the porchetta.

  3. sarah henry says:

    i don’t know murcotts — and after reading this little love poem to a tiny tangerine, now i want to. thanks for sharing.

  4. Mark Frankel says:

    Ah, Murcotts!! I’ve been snarfing down these little gems for weeks! They’re wonderful in every way: They look perfect, they taste sweet and a little tangy, they’re great!! And I can only echo Mary Stewart Anthony’s comment: Romney, you can paint a picture with words that I can almost taste!! I would also refer you and your readers to a similar and equally marvelous tangerine, the Satsuma, available at local neighborhood markets and farmers’ markets. Sorta like the plain-jane cousin to the Murcott but just as good.
    Warmest Regards

  5. Cheryl says:

    And your *photos*… just lovely! Thanks for pointing to my post, but after seeing your simple display above, I’d forget all about the couscous / garbanzos / porchetta and just eat these lovelies out of hand. (Or even not eat them… and just look at them as art.)

  6. [...] last week, lovely Murcott tangerines and other late blooming citrus were at the forefront of the stalls, keeping me ensconced in a [...]

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