Adam Erace Adam Erace battles adult on-set diabetes and cankles as the restaurant critic for the Philadelphia City Paper. He also writes about food and travel for publications like Details, Fodor's and Southern Living. He lives in South Philly with his wife, Charlotte, and two rescue mutts, Lupo and Marco.
A few weekends ago, I encountered a culinary artifact while brunching at Santucci’s (901 S. 10th St.) — the brûléed grapefruit. The halves of citrus sat on chef Bobby Saritsoglu's "Italian Breakfast" plate of speck, candied nuts, fresh bananas/blueberries and ricotta, their thin, torched-sugar tops looking like the frozen surface of a citric lake you’d be wary of skating on. Shattering the brûléed barrier and excavating segments of bittersweet fruit one by one, I relished the retro joy of it, feeling very much like a first-class passenger aboard the Titanic. What a civilized way to energize for racquetball below the poop deck.
It’s peak season for citrus in Texas, California and Florida, and grapefruits right now are heavy, ripe, juicy and fragrant. White, pink or ruby red, any variety will stand up to the broiler or blow torch in this recipe, which I’ve been tinkering with since brunch at Santucci's. I’ve seen formulae that call for butter and others that incorporate spices, but this is the one I like best. Concentrated bursts of blue flame from a crème brûlée torch is the best method for even sugar-browning, but no need to run to Fante's; you can also just turn your broiler up as high as it will go and get your oven rack into the uppermost slot for a comparable effect.
Grapefruit Brûlée (serves two)
Go Get This:
1 large, ripe grapefruit
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
Pinch ground cinnamon
Pinch coarse salt
Fresh thyme and torn basil, to garnish
Now Do This:
Preheat your broiler as high as it'll go, then prep the grapefruit by cutting it in half along its equator. Slice a small foot off each piece so the halves will stand up straight in the oven. Run the blade of a paring knife around the perimeter of each half, between the rind and fruit, working in a circle. Then make V-shaped slits between each segment, using the membrane as a guide, which will help the supremes pop out more easily. Set the grapefruit halves in a sturdy pan (I like a Pyrex pie plate for this) and reserve.
Using a metal strainer, sift the sugars, cinnamon and salt together into a mixing bowl. Add vanilla bean and whisk to combine. Let the sugar mix stand at least 10 minutes so the cinnamon and vanilla can impart their flavor. (You can do this ahead to time, too; the longer it hangs out, the better it will be.)
Spread the sugar mixture evenly atop the two grapefruit halves. Place the fruit under the broiler and cook until the sugar is caramelized, about 8 minutes. Remove, let cool slightly, garnish with basil and thyme and dig in. No fancy grapefruit spoon required, though I won’t complain if your undying appreciation for this recipe results in a set of these.
Big Big News: Eli Kulp's a.kitchen Menu
A few weeks back we shared the wonderful news that Ellen Yin and Eli Kulp of Fork and High Street...
Accolades: Vernick’s Vincent Stipo named Best Bartender in the U.S.
File this under 'tell us something we don't know': Today The Daily Meal named the top 25 bartenders...
This week we tell you why eating in Upper Darby is the coolest. Adam Erace is sweet on Le...