In the very last sentence of “A Christmas Carol”, Ebenezer Scrooge announces, over a bowl of “Smoking Bishop,” that he’ll give Bob Cratchitt a raise. Historians tells us that this warm winter punch made with red wine and port – so named because the drink traditionally associated with bishops was port -- was popular in England in the 18th and 19th centuries. (A recipe for Bishop appears in the charming “Mystic Seaport Cookbook: 350 Years of New England Cooking” by Lillian Langseth-Christensen, so it was apparently enjoyed in Connecticut as well. That recipe, from 1864, is made only with port, a lemon that's been rubbed hard with sugar, and the sugar that was rubbed on the lemon. So interesting!) Getting back to this recipe . . . . For the deepest and most luxurious flavor, let the fruit and spices sit in the wine for at least twenty-four hours. If you are not terribly fond of anise seeds, I encourage you to give them a try here: the bold flavors of the wine, other spices, citrus and port tone down the anise, which makes an important contribution in the background. I like this with any sweet or savory treat made with figs (especially pan de higo served with great cheeses), and with chocolate. Enjoy! ;o) —AntoniaJames
- Serves 4-6
4 oranges + 1 for garnish
2 medium lemons
1 bottle red wine (I use a hearty vin ordinaire from southern France)
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons anise seed, crushed (measure before crushing using mortar and pestle)
4 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons raw sugar
1 cup apple brandy
2 ½ cups port
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Remove and reserve the zest of 4 oranges and the lemon citrus, using a microplane or conventional zester. Cut citrus in half and roast, cut side down, on an ungreased pan on the top shelf of your oven for about 20 minutes, or until the edges start to caramelize.
- Remove the citrus from the oven and allow to cool until you can handle it easily. Then squeeze the juice from it. Put the juice into a large, heavy pot, along with the wine, reserved zest, spices, sugar and molasses. Rinse the juices from the pan off with a few tablespoons of water and put them in the pot as well.
- Heat just to a simmer, stirring well to combine. Allow it to continue to simmer for about ten minutes.
- Add the port and brandy; continue to simmer for a few minutes. Allow it to cool, then cover and set aside for at least 24 hours.
- When ready to serve, strain the spices. Slice the extra orange, and remove any visible seeds. Add to the pot and warm over medium heat, until nice and hot.
- Enjoy!! ;o)