Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Candied Grapefruit Peel (Page 699)

  • Date: Tuesday, December 4, 2007 -- 10pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: D

I made this candied grapefruit peel with the intention of sending it to Chris as a little holiday gift. Given the outcome of this recipe, it will not be finding its way into Chris' mailbox (sorry Chris!), but rather into the garbage can. Let me just start by saying that I am a fairly patient cook. I have a high tolerance for recipes that have many steps, or procedures that border on ridiculous. Occasionally though, The Book challenges even my patience. This was one of those times. The directions for this recipe are essentially as follows: Peel grapefruit. Cut peel into slices. Put peel slices in cold water. Bring to a boil. Boil for one minute. Drain. Cover peel with cold water. Bring to a boil. Boil for one minute. Drain. Cover peel with cold water. Bring to a boil. Boil for one minute. Drain. Cover peel with cold water. Bring to a boil. Boil for one minute. Drain. Cover peel with cold water. Bring to a boil. Boil for one minute. Drain. No, I did not just get confused with the cut and paste on my computer. This recipe actually calls for the peel to be blanched FIVE TIMES! And after all that, the recipe continues... Now, the logic here (supposedly!) is that this repeated blanching makes the peel less bitter. That is a noble goal, and I can respect it, but after tasting the end product I find it absolutely impossible to believe that the blanching reduced the bitterness in the slightest.

I will eat essentially anything. I have preferences of course, but I am not a picky eater. This evening, I bit into one of these candied grapefruit peels (which, to their credit, were absolutely beautiful!), and I immediately ran to the sink to spit it out. "Huh," I thought to myself, "maybe I got a bad one." So I picked a different one, and tried again. And again, I had to spit it out. I, stubbornly tried a third time, and then a fourth, figuring maybe I just needed to get used to it. But no, this recipe (at least to me) is actually inedible. I don't know if any of you out there have ever eaten candied orange peel. It is delicious, but it is deeply, intensely orange flavored. Well, grapefruit peel, it turns out, has the same intensity. But instead of being orange-flavored, it is grapefruit flavored, and EXTREMELY bitter. On attempt number 5 I realized that the the part of the candied peel that once was the pith actually tastes pretty good. It is only the very exterior of the peel that is truly awful. So I nibbled away at the pith of a piece or two, and decided it was reasonably tasty. Perhaps, that is what the entire piece of peel was supposed to taste like, and it just didn't work out that way. I don't know. One thing I do know: this recipe is bad. I would have given it an F, but it seems at least possible to me that with different grapefruit or a different person eating it (one with a strong affinity for bitterness) you might end up with an edible product.

If you're brave, here is the recipe.

The danger of cooking Christmas presents from The Book is that you can't always count on ending up with something that you want to pass along to someone you like.


Christopher said...

You're sweet =). I do love grapefruit! Maybe I could gnaw on the outside of a grapefruit while looking at the pretty picture on your blog, to reproduce the experience?

In other food related news, I'm in Austin at the moment, and this afternoon I was chatting with Carl (whom some of y'all will remember from Talbot), and he had picked up a bunch of pecans off the ground around campus, and so we sat there cracking them open while chatting about intersection cohomology --- they were delicious! So if you ever need a bunch of pecans, I recommend flying to Austin and gathering them from the ground.

Mike Hill said...

Well, your students will be happy to know that grade inflation isn't a problem with you, Teena! I thought that the grades were based solely on your experience, not that of some mythical [more] master chef with a grapefruit of power or some such.

Give the damn thing an F! Otherwise, all of your other grades will be meaningless...

And hi, Chris!

Kevin said...

Hmmmm, I've just written up my list of holiday baking from The Book, and I was planning on attaching little packages of these candied peels to everyone's presents. Now I'm not so sure. I'll make them anyway of course, but maybe I'll decide to throw them away too.

Mike Hill said...

If they are really bitter, maybe when you blanche them you should add a little of the grapefruit juice each time? Or maybe a lot. That should change the pH enough to cut some of the bitterness.

Of course, it could also be nature's way of saying "this part is not for eating".

vero said...

Sorry Teena, I'm with Mike. The grade inflation has to stop!

Garbage = F
Garbage + complicated instructions = Z!!!!

I always check your blog before making a recipe from Gourmet. I'm counting on your grades to keep me away from these crazy recipies!

Teena said...

Chris: Well, I'm sorry it didn't work out. I thought they would be delicious and you would adore them, but it wasn't meant to be.

Mike: After dealing with my calculus students I am hesitant to give anything an F. It might beg me to give it an Incomplete instead so as not to ruin its GPA, and that would require a lot of paperwork.

Kevin: I look forward to hearing your impressions!

Vero: I hear ya, but I don't think you are going to get too confused about whether or not you should make the recipe if I give it a D rather than an F!

Anonymous said...

I made these, and reading this I didn't just let the water come to the boil then drain it. I boiled them 3 times for a couple of minutes. They're delicious, sweet and the bitterness cuts through the sweetness. Maybe you didn't use enough sugar, or maybe yellow grapefruit aren't as bitter.

Maybe I just like bitterness. I hate wasting water and every time I drained the peel I did drink the water (grew up in major drought) and I even liked that.

Even if you don't read this, other people might, don't get turned off, they're really yum!!!

Teena said...

Maybe you like bitterness more than I do! Or maybe I had some especially bitter grapefruit. Perhaps I will try this recipe again someday :)