The holidays do strange things to me. One morning between Christmas and New Year's I decided that I must — MUST — whip up a batch of orange biscotti before house guests Tom and Beth arose. It was 5 a.m. and the worthless slugs don't stir much before nine, so timing would not be a problem.
The problem was the candied orange peel that I needed in order to make the biscotti. There wasn't any. Somehow it had disappeared from the cupboard. I'm not accusing anybody here, okay. I'm just saying.
Rather than do the sensible thing and bake something else instead I became obsessed with replenishing the (purloined?) supply of orange peel. Immediately. Later that day, after it became apparent that there was no candied orange peel to be had locally, I decided (without discussion or debate) to put the house guests to work and make some.
No, I had never candied an orange peel before. (Do I look like a confectioner to you? Well, do I?) Neither had anybody else in our group. A quick consult with Mister Google netted a variety of approaches to the task, this one appearing to be the simplest. Since I had a few extra hands around to do the painstaking knife work on the oranges, I doubled the recipe so as to secure an ample supply.
Hey, I fed these people for six days. They can cut a few oranges for me, am I right?
The first thing to do is peel the orange and cut the rind into manageable pieces that you can work with. Then, using a sharp knife, cut away as much of the pith as you can.
You could leave more pith on the rind than this, or clean it even further. Either way is fine.
Slice the rind into 1/2-inch pieces.
We used 8 large organic oranges and so we filled a pot with 8 1/2 cups of water and 5 cups of sugar. Stir that together and bring to a boil over medium heat, then add the rind and turn the heat down to low. We allowed this to simmer for around 3 hours (without any stirring, per the instructions).
When the liquid has reduced to the point where it's just covering the rind, turn off the heat and allow to cool.
Once cool remove the rind with a slotted spoon and place in a colander to drain.
We saved the liquid, which is basically an orange-flavored syrup.
Tom used some of the syrup to make cocktails one night, but I didn't try any of them. He hates the idea that I don't drink cocktails and thinks I'm a Luddite for sticking with straight whiskey, wine or beer. For the record, I don't care much what he thinks.
After the rind has cooled toss a bunch of sugar in a bowl and then, in small batches, roll the rind around until well coated.
At this point all they need to do is dry. We went the oven-dried route, lining them on parchment and baking at a low temperature (no more than 200 degrees F) for an hour or so. But you can also just leave them out on a counter to dry overnight.
Once dry all that's left to do is rub off some of the excess sugar. How much you remove is up to you; the more sugar left on the sweeter the rind will be.
On the left is the rind with plenty of sugar left on it; the rind on the right has been pretty well cleaned up.
Candied orange peel will keep for some time stored in an airtight container. However, since we made so much of the stuff, I wrapped it up tight and tossed it in the freezer (behind the tripe and the pigskin and the sweetbreads) for safe keeping.
I would appreciate your keeping the whereabout of my orange peel supply to yourself, by the way. I think it best if certain (unnamed) persons do not know its location.