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Recipes and Stories

12 January 2016: Sherried Grapefruit

Sherried Grapefruit is old-fashioned elegance in a cup

For those of us who are a certain age, one of the most fragrant memories of Christmas during our childhood was the fat orange that bulged the toe of our Christmas stocking. To this day, the bright, pungent aroma that’s released when an orange is peeled whispers of all the good things about my Christmases past.

Frozen juice and year-round imports have dulled our appreciation for the seasonality of citrus fruit, and today’s children would probably feel cheated to find an orange in their stockings. We’ve forgotten how precious and rare that orange was in those days. It was a real Christmas luxury, not just as a fragrant offering in our stocking but in that sumptuous bowl of holiday Ambrosia that I wrote of last December.

Showing up as it did just when the days had become their shortest and darkest, the rare wonder of winter citrus fruit transcended the holidays, a precious (and expensive) midwinter luxury that brought a bit of golden Florida sunshine to our tables and provided us with the vitamins that our other meager seasonal produce lacked.

We would do well to rediscover a sense of wonder and luxury in all our food, but most especially in this one.

To that end, here’s Sherried Grapefruit, a refined yet nearly forgotten classic that whispers of old china, silver, and crisp linen. It makes an exquisitely simple and lovely first course for brunch, lunch, or a light dinner. It also makes a refreshingly light dessert for the end of a fish dinner or heavy winter meal like pot roast or hearty meat stew.

Sherried Grapefruit

Serves 4

4 large, ripe pink or red grapefruit
Medium-dry sherry such as Amontillado
4 mint sprigs

1. Cut each grapefruit crosswise in half. Cut out the sections with a citrus knife or serrated utility knife and transfer them to a glass bowl. Add just enough sherry to barely cover them. Let sit 15-30 minutes, taste, and add sugar as needed. Gently stir until the sugar is dissolved, then cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. You may make it to this point up 8 hours ahead (if you’re serving it for brunch, make it up the night before).

2. Meanwhile, scoop the membrane from the grapefruit rinds, being careful not to tear or puncture the shells so that they form natural cups. Cover and refrigerate them until needed. (If you prefer, you can omit this step and simply serve the fruit in small glass dessert bowls.)

3. To serve, put the grapefruit cups into glass dessert bowls (or trim them so that they’ll sit flat on a glass plate, or omit them altogether). Divide the fruit evenly among the grapefruit cups or dessert bowls, garnish with mint, and serve cold.

Recipe and text adapted from Beans, Greens, & Sweet Georgia Peaches, 2nd Edition, by Damon Lee Fowler, copyright © 2014 by Damon Lee Fowler, all rights reserved.

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