Lemon with fish is pretty much an incontrovertible rule in the kitchen, is it not? Break the rule and risk punishment by mass exodus of customers, and mass sackings of staff. Once upon a time citrus was used pretty commonly with meat too. Of course we are all familiar with the idea of duck with an orange sauce. Sadly, usually nowadays it comes as a tacky, sickly-sweet marmalade-y mess that is centuries away from the elegant original form made with the bitter Seville orange - a far better foil for the rich and fatty duck meat, methinks.
Here is an early version of the idea, from The good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin (1594)
To boyle a Capon with Oranges after Mistres Duffelds way.
Take a Capon and boyle it with Veale, or with a mary bone [marrow bone], or what your fancie is. Then take a good quantitie of that broth, and put it in an earthen pot by it selfe, and put thereto a good handfull of Corrans [currants], and as manie Prunes, and a few whole Maces, and some Marie [marrow], and put to this broth a good quantitie of white wine or of Claret, and so let them seeth softly together: Then take your Orenges, and with a knife scrape of all the filthinesse of the outside of them. Then cut them in the middest, and wring out the ioyse [juice] of three or foure of them, put the ioyse into your broth with the rest of your stuffe, then slice your Orenges thinne, and haue upon the fire readie a skellet of faire seething water, and put your sliced Orenges into the water, & when that water is bitter, have more readie, and so change them still as long as you can finde the great bitternesse in the water, which will be sixe or seven times, or more, if you find need: then take them from the water, and let that runne cleane from them: then put close Orenges into your potte with your broth, and so let them stew together till your Capon be readie. Then make your sops with this broth, and cast on a litle Sinamon, Ginger, and Sugar, and upon this lay your Capon, and some of your Orenges vpon it, and some of your Marie, and towarde the end of the boyling of your broth, put in a little Vergious [verjuice], if you think best.
We did play with the idea of orange food once before, and our source was Aunt Babette's Cook Book: Foreign and domestic receipts for the household (Cincinnati, 1889). On that occasion I gave you four orange recipes – all sweet ones however - orange fritters, cake, ice, and orangeade. I was reminded of that post recently as I was browsing 365 Orange Recipes; an Orange Recipe for Every Day in the Year (c1909). Today, to match the numbers, I give you a further three recipes for the use of orange in savoury dishes, taken from the latter book.
Onions with Orange Sauce.
Boil 1 dozen onions in three changes of water until tender but not broken; drain them and add ½ cupful of melted butter mixed with a little grated rind, 1 teaspoonful of minced parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Serve very hot.
Calf’s Liver with Orange.
Cut 1 pound of calf’s liver in slices one-half inch thick, cover with boiling water for a minute, drain and cook brown in bacon fat. Chop one onion and brown in butter adding 1 peeled and chopped orange two minutes before removing from the fire; season with salt and pepper and place one spoonful of the sauce on each slice of liver.
Finnan-Haddie with Orange Butter.
Soak finnan-haddie for one hour in two changes of warm water, drain well and fry in butter or broil over slow coals. Melt ½ cupful of butter, stir into it the diced pulp and the grated rind of ½ an orange; spread over the fish and serve at once.
Quotation for the Day.
When life sucks and hands you lemons, I say beat the crap out of it and demand some Florida oranges as well.