I hadn’t yet been to Morocco when I first became seduced by tagine; meat braised into submission in the company of dried fruit, toasted nuts, exotic spices, and preserved citrus. Preserved lemon can be plucked off the shelf of your favorite fancy grocery. However preserved oranges are less likely to procured at your local. I have found preserved oranges offer a slightly sweeter note that couples well with headier spices like cinnamon, anise, nutmeg, and cardamom. Preserved oranges are easy to make at home and use few ingredients. Within 10 minutes you will be transported to a far away land full of culinary possibility.
smallish thin rind oranges
Thoroughly wash and scrub the oranges removing stems. Cut into fourths without allowing the knife to cut all the way through. Cut approximately 2/3rds through the fruit. Generously salt the flesh of the orange Using a sterilized jar with proper fitting lid begin to press the oranges into the jar. Pour additional salt in between the layers of oranges. Periodically drop in peppercorns using no more than 10 in your entire jar. Continue doing this until the jar is well packed and full. Squeeze orange juice to fill in the gaps. Slide in a bay leaf and star anise. Add a bit more salt, then seal. Turn upside down on the shelf of the fridge overnight. The next day, turn it back right side up. If you see a gap, fill it with oranges, salt and orange juice. Close it up and place back in the refrigerator. Let “steep” for 4 weeks. These will keep for about 6 months. Rinse before using. Use as you would preserved lemons.