Page-level ads

Recommended for you

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sauce Bigarade and Bitter Orange Marmalade. The Seville or Bigarade Oranges, the Most Popular Oranges in the French Kitchen.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
Oranges in the center of Seville.

The Bigarade (Seville) orange in the kitchen.
French chefs choose the Seville orange for sauces when they need an orange with a controllable and contrasting,  but not too sweet, taste. When a bitter orange sauce is on a French menu, it will, nine times out of ten, be the Seville Orange (also called the Bigarade orange).  

Duck and orange sauce and Dundee Marmalade.

Bigarade Sauce is the sauce behind most dishes of Canard a la Orange, duck in orange sauce.  Just as the Bigarade orange, the Seville orange is behind Dundee, Scottish marmalade and bitter marmalades made elsewhere. For these, the Seville orange is the only orange in contention.
Sauce Bigarade

Sauce Bigarade is simply made.  The recipe uses just the juice of the Seville orange, along with some of the natural cooking juices from the dish with which it will be served.  Some of the orange zest and or peel and a small amount of sugar may be added to control the taste. Sauce Bigarade is often associated with duck, but it is also used with other poultry, meat, and game.


Like many names in the English kitchen, according to, the word bigarade comes from France.  In this case from the French language of  Occitan which lost out in the competition for the official language of France. Bigarade comes from the Occitan word bigarrar which means to change, to add color. (The language of Occitan is still spoken by millions of Frenchmen and French women as a second language and has many connected dialects, including Provencal. For more about the French in the English kitchen click here: 

Your menu in France may offer:
Carré de Cerf Rôti aux Baies des Champs, Sauce Bigarade – A cut from a rib of venison roasted with berries from the fields. Venison may be any member of the deer family and in France, many types of deer are farm raised.  Wild deer may only be hunted, along with other wild game,  during a limited season, and then they will, usually,  be on a special hunting season menu.  On a regular menu, wild deer would be listed as cerf sauvage, wild deer, or Cerf de la Chasse, deer from the hunt.  Baies des Champs means berries from the fields and for game that will certainly include juniper berries.
Filet de Dindonneau aux Clémentines Sauce Bigarade – A slice of young turkey breast prepared with clementines and served with a sauce bigarade.
Riz de Veau Sauce Bigarade Veal sweetbreads served with a bigarade sauce.
Magret de Canard aux Fruits Rouges et sa Pomme Anna, Sauce Bigarade Duck breast cooked in with red fruits, and accompanied by Anna potatoes and  a Sauce Bigarade. Red fruits on French menus change with the season and will include berries, plums, strawberriescherries etc.,
Plaza de Naranjas
The  Seville orange tree courtyard in the Seville Cathedral, Spain. 
The Catedral de Santa María de la Sede.
Picture courtesy of Larry Wentzel
Rôti de Veau Sauce Bigarade – Roast veal served with a Sauce Bigarade.

Suprême de Pintadeau Sauce Bigarade aux Fraises - Breast of Guinea hen served with a Sauce Bigarade and  strawberries,

Duck with Sauce Bigarade.
Photograph courtesy of nattnattyboom
When I visited Seville
I visited Seville, Spain, at the height of the orange season and much of the town has  Seville orange trees as decoration.   The trees were heavy with ripe fruit; however, not surprisingly, no one takes the fruit, not only because it is prohibited, but because they are too bitter. Only someone making a bigarade sauce or marmalade at home might be tempted to break the law and steal oranges.
An old Dundee Marmalade jar.
The manufacturer’s name on the jar is James Keiller;
This family was among the first manufacturers of Dundee orange marmalade in
Photograph courtesy of Smabs Sputzer.
Dundee marmalade.
The Seville orange makes the best orange marmalade with the most famous being Dundee Marmalade. How the Seville orange arrived in Dundee, Scotland is much disputed. What is not disputed is the fact that Dundee has been producing excellent orange marmalade for over 200 years.                   
Seville marmalade ready for labeling.
There are other oranges amère, bitter oranges, available in French markets, and each has its own group of aficionados and particular uses.  Among the other well known bitter oranges are:
The Bergamot orange.

The Bergamot Orange is a sub-species of the Seville orange and is famous for its scent, not its juice. The Bergamot orange is the scent behind Earl Grey tea and the Bergamot orange’s zest, very rarely will it be in the French kitchen and then it used for its aroma.  The oils in the skin of the Bergamot orange are used for essential oils in aromatherapy and in skin creams.
The Maltese blood orange
The Orange Maltaise or Maltaise Sanguine, the Maltese blood orange,  was the orange behind the original Sauce Maltaise.  Sauce Maltaise is Sauce Hollandaise with juice and the zest of the Maltaise blood orange added. Today when Sauce Maltaise is on the menu, often, the Seville orange will have replaced the Maltese orange. 
 Oranges originated in the area of today’s China and Vietnam, and there are now hundreds, if not thousands, of varieties and crosses that have developed in tens of countries. Where the Seville orange developed is disputed, but as they grew very well in the region of Seville, Spain, that is now their most popular name.

Connected posts:


The French Connection and The English Kitchen

Behind the French Menu’s links include hundreds of words, names, and phrases that are seen on French menus. There are nearly 400 articles that include over 2,000 French dishes with English translations and explanations. Add the word, words or phrase that you are searching for to the words "Behind the French Menu" and search with Google or Bing.

Bryan G. Newman

Behind the French Menu.
Copyright 2010, 2014, 2017.

For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

No comments:

Post a Comment