Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Preserved Lemons

Preserved lemons can be used in many dishes primarily North African and Moroccan Cuisine. Actually the idea to do this at home came from work, we were making a Tagine for a special that called for preserved lemons and gave us a bizarre recipe that involved cutting lemons almost into quarters (cutting then about 3/4 of the way through) then packing them in Kosher salt, submerging them in water and microwaving them for 5 minutes. I looked at that recipe and said to one of the other Chefs that I work with "That can't be the traditional recipe handed down for generations." Turns out Preserved Lemons are something that he uses all the time at home, so we spent a little time talking about how he prepares them.
I won't go into the details of the conversation because, I am told, that I can be really dull when I talk about food like that. I took the information from him, did some additional research and came up with the method of preserving Lemons that I used.

When I made them I used
10 Lemons
2/3 cup Kosher Salt
1/4 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Olive Oil

Blanch 5 of the Lemons in boiling water for about 5 minutes then set aside until cool enough to work with. Cut them into 8 wedges, be sure to pick the seeds out but leave as much of the flesh intact as you can, you need that for the juice. As you slice the lemons put them into a large bowl. Once they are all cut toss them with the salt and sugar until well coated and pack them into a quart jar with a tight fitting lid. Take the remaining 5 lemons and squeeze the juice out of them and add to the jar (make sure to remove any seeds from these too). Once you are done the lemon rinds should be submerged in juices. Shake the jar up to mix everything and set it on the counter. I set mine next to my coffee pot so that I would remember to shake it once or twice a day for the next 6 days. After the 6 days on my counter they were ready to use, so I pored the Olive Oil on top and put them in the refrigerator.

These Lemons are delicious! They are very aromatic and have such an intense citrus flavor that just a few slices are enough to taste throughout a dish. They can be tossed into salads or a pasta dish for that wonderful lemon flavor or in braised chicken for a bright pop of flavor. I have a few recipes that I will post this week.

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