Someone pointed out to me this past weekend that “there are only 14 more Saturdays until Christmas” – how’s that for throwing a scare into you? In truth, 14 Saturdays (or, ten, if you’re counting down to Turkey Day) is still a fair amount of time to prepare for the upcoming insanity; so why not begin by putting together a bit of liquid refreshment?
Traditionally, I make limoncello to share during the holidays, but I recently came across a recipe calling for oranges…
which looked really good, until they started talking about adding half a vanilla bean to the orange peels to make a kindofa creamsicle sort of beverage.
I was not going to go out and buy vanilla beans to make some super sweet alcoholic concoction – that’s what mixers are for – but then I got to thinking about this amazing palate cleanser we had at a dinner last year; tangerine sorbet, which a hint of black pepper added.
So, I gathered my oranges, added some Tellicherry peppercorns, and poured some pretty OK vodka over it all and set it aside to rest.
Fair warning: you’ll need two weeks to make this, so you may want to think about starting it soon. Christmas is, after all, coming.
•1 tbsp Tellicherry peppercorns
•1.75L good vodka*
•1-1/2 cups sugar
•3-1/2 cups water
*Don’t go crazy, but don’t cheap out, either; your orangello is only going to be as good as its base ingredients.
Peel the oranges, getting as little of the white pith as possible (it’ll make for a bitter drink) and place in a large covered pitcher.
Add the peppercorns, then pour the vodka over, giving it all a good stir.
Close the pitcher and let rest in a cool, shaded space for three or four days. Strain the orange peel and pepper corns out of the liquid – notice how orange the liquid is already.
Remove the pepper corns and discard, then return the orange peel and liquid to the pitcher. Close and return to that cool, shaded space for another week or so.
Combine the sugar with the water in a pot and bring to a boil, stirring, until the sugar is completely dissolved and you have a classic simple syrup.
Allow this to cool completely, and then stir into the vodka mixture.
Close the lid again, return (again) to that cool, shaded space, and let rest for another four days.
Strain out the orange peels, bottle, and stash in the fridge until needed.
I ended up with two nice sized and about half of a smallish bottles of very nice liqueur.
Bring on the holidays; I am prepared.