Saturday, January 4, 2014

Slow Cooked Clementine Compote

Sugared Clementines
Photograph by A. Schloss

I love this stuff.  It was the first thing I ever made in a slow cooker and I continue  to stock my pantry with it every year when clementines come into season. As the fruit slowly simmers sugared juices emerge and fragrant bitter oils from the peel melt and mingle into a bittersweet condiment, creamy with a minimum of fat, aromatic without a trace of herb, and completely addictive (only shame will keep you from consuming the entire batch in a single sitting). I usually serve it with toast at breakfast, as I would orange marmalade, but I’ve also been known to go at it with a spoon late at night.

Note: The recipe asks you to cover the slow cooker crock with a folded kitchen towel before putting on the lid. Though this may seem odd, it is crucial to develop a compote of spreadable consistency. Slow cookers are designed to precipitate evaporating moisture back into the crock - great for moistening a pot roast or a rack of ribs, but disastrous to a thickening compote. The towel absorbs any steam coming off the simmering fruit, encouraging the clementines to thicken into a creamy syrupy soup.  

Another note: I have made this compote for many years in a number of slow cookers and some oval-shaped cookers tend to burn anything that touches the wall as it narrows around the curve of the oval. If your slow cooker has a tendency towards this erratic behavior stir the compote to redistribute the fruit about 2 1/2 hours into cooking. If a slice or two of clementine should brown just remove those parts before chopping the fruit into a compote. 

Clementine Compote (a riff on Candied Clementine and Kalamata Compote, Art of the Slow Cooker, page 209)

Makes 1 pint (about 8 servings)

1 cup sugar
10 clementines, sliced 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick
2 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Triple Sec or orange brandy

Sliced Clementines
Photograph by A. Schloss
Scatter 1/3 cup of the sugar over the bottom of a small (3-to 4-quart) slow cooker. Layer the clementine slices over the sugar and scatter the remaining 2/3 cup sugar over the top.  Cover the crock with a folded  kitchen towel, cover with the lid, and cook on high for 4 hours, or until the fruit is soft and a syrup has formed in the bottom of the crock. 

Uncover and drizzle the liqueur over the top. Cool.

Candied Clementines
Photograph by A. Schloss
With a slotted spoon lift the softened cooked fruit from the liquid onto a cutting board. Chop coarsely into a rough spreadable preserve. There should be visible pieces of peel nestled in the mound of pulp. Mix with the liquid in the slow cooker and store in a closed container in the refrigerator. The compote will last for several months.

Serve as a spread with toast or sweet rolls, team with peanut butter for a sophisticated PB&J, or use it to glaze a roasting chicken.

PB & Compote Sandwich
Photograph by A. Schloss

2 comments:

  1. Can this be made successfully with honey instead of sugar? Do any adjustments need to be made to either the proportions or cooking method? Thanks!

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  2. I have never tried doing the compote with honey but I suspect there would be problems. Honey has a tendency to scorch in a slow cooker, the compote would likely be looser, which is not a problem as long as you don't mind that consistency. I think the flavor could be great. Maybe add some at the end along with the liqueur.

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