Winter is definitely in full swing here in the northeast. The cold unpredictable weather, not to mention the discomforting, albeit silly, predictions of a groundhog can certainly give anyone the winter blues. And yet, there is an undeniable irony behind this season which also gives us the bright citrus fruits that taste more like a warm summer day.
Then again, perhaps that’s the beauty and power of nature: just when you’re feeling down, and possibly near death with a cold or flu, here comes some much needed citrus and vitamin C to help give you a hand.
And, like icing on a cake, our global economy has introduced us to the unique and dramatically gorgeous blood orange.
Originally from the Mediterranean (Italy/Sicily, Spain, Greece), it’s no surprise that the birthplace of opera would also produce a fruit just as dramatic and glorious as a prima donna on stage, amirite?!
Slay, you Maria Callas of citrus, slay!
A huge boost of antioxidants give this divine little citrus fruit its deep striking ruby color and its almost raspberry-like sweetness. It’s really a bit of a show-off among its citrus siblings. See? Prima donna!
This past weekend, one of the biggest prima donnas of American sports, Tom Brady, took center stage at Super Bowl 52. I call him a prima donna with all due respect – he is one of, if not THE, greatest quarterback of all time, and yes, he is the ‘first lady’ of the football field.
And yet, like all prima donnas expérience at some point in their careers, this past weekend was not his best. In fact, not only did Philadelphia Eagles’ own Nick Foles steal the spotlight, but…
SO DID MY BLOOD ORANGE MERINGUE PIE.
Sorry, Tom – not sorry.
After watching Geoffrey Zakarian and the hosts of Food Network’s The Kitchen make a delectable lemon meringue pie, I got the idea to make a blood orange one. (I also learned that meringue pies are a favorite of my husband’s – after 10 years, I don’t think I knew that?! 🙈)
I had to rework Chef Zakarian’s recipe a bit, but the result was so astounding, I couldn’t have been happier. And neither could our cousins who ate it at the Super Bowl party.
My version uses a combination of blood orange, lemon and (if you can find it!) a splash of POMELO juice! Pomelos are these beautiful HUGE citrus fruits that resemble a grapefruit, but their skin is thinner and their taste is tangier, sweeter and less tart than a grapefruit. If you can’t find one, no worries at all – just add an additional splash of blood orange juice or lemon juice in its place.
I’m not going to lie – this recipe is a bit complicated, and requires PATIENCE and VERY DELIBERATE ATTENTION TO THE DETAILED STEPS, so it’s not for the faint of heart. But I’ve tried to make it as simple as possible. Just take it one step at a time. Remember – we’re dealing with Maria Callas here…
I’d love to know how it worked for you!!
And the curtain rises…
Blood Orange Meringue Pie
– One 9″ frozen pie crust
For blood orange curd:
– ¼ c water
– 1 TB + ½ tsp powdered unflavored gelatin
– Zest of 3 blood oranges
– ½ c blood orange juice
– ¼ c lemon juice
– 2-3 TB of pomelo juice (can be substituted with more blood orange or lemon juice)
– ¾ c granulated sugar
– 3 large eggs, room temperature
– 1 c unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
– 4 large eggs, room temperature
– 1 tsp cream of tartar
– 2 c granulated sugar
– ½ c water
Special tools (helpful but not necessary):
– candy thermometer
– culinary blow torch
For pie crust and curd:
1. Prepare your pre-made frozen pie crust as directed. Let cool completely.
2. In a small bowl, add gelatin to the water, stir to blend well and allow the gelatin to coagulate.
3. In a pot, combine zest, blood orange juice, lemon juice, pomelo juice and half of the granulated sugar to a boil. Meanwhile, using a hand mixer (or with strong wrists!), whisk together the remaining half of the sugar and the eggs in a separate bowl.
4. Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool slightly. Whisk the sugar and eggs mixture into the pot, blending the juice and eggs mixture until well incorporated.
5. Return the pot to heat, and with a candy thermometer heat the mixture up to 185° F while continuously whisking vigorously. (If you don’t have a candy thermometer, heat the mixture over medium-low heat for about 4-5 minutes while continuously whisking vigorously.) Once the mixture has reached 185° F (or you’ve heated/whisked the mixture for 4-5 minutes), remove from heat, and add the butter and the bloomed gelatin (which will now be in jelly form) to the pot. Using an immersion blender, food processor or standard blender, blend the mixture until it is creamy and well incorporated.
6. Strain the mixture through a mesh strainer to remove any clumps or large zest pieces. Pour the final curd mixture into the pie dish, and refrigerate until it is set, for about 45 min – 1 hour.
7. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, mix the egg whites and cream of tartar together on medium speed until the egg white form soft peaks. (Depending on how fresh your eggs are, this could take anywhere from 4 minutes to 10+ minutes, but they WILL begin to form soft peaks.) Closely watch the egg whites so that they don’t go beyond soft peaks.
8. While your mixer is working on the egg whites mixture, combine the sugar and water in a pot, and over medium heat bring it to 248° F (or to a low boil).
9. Once your egg whites are at soft peaks, turn the stand mixture up to high speed, and add your hot sugar mixture slowly in a thin stream to the egg whites. Continue to whisk on high until the egg whites form stiff peaks.
10. Spread the meringue over the curd with a spatula, lightly spreading it out. Twirl and pull the spatula up and off the meringue to create peaks. And if you have a kitchen torch, brown the meringue and peaks until your desired toasted color. If you don’t have a kitchen torch, you can place the pie under your broiler on low until the meringue has toasted to your liking.