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Archive for Techniques
Have you seen the glorious yellow mounds on display in the supermarket lately? It’s Meyer lemon season again, and pushing my cart past the bright displays has me dreaming of the heady flavors of preserved lemons, one of North African cuisine’s gift to the world. Here in North America, chefs have begun to use them in interesting and inventive ways, taking salads, main dishes and even desserts to new heights. In Morocco and Algeria, cooks use them to create wonderfully flavorful Tagines bursting with the muted bitterness of lemon rinds combined with the saltiness of green olives. In Tunisia, they chop them finely and add them, along with black olives and hard-boiled eggs, into tuna sandwiches. It’s hard to find a pantry in that part of the world that doesn’t have a jar (or two) around for instant use.
Meyer lemons are extremely thin-skinned and their flesh tends to be slightly orange.
Due to their hybridized heritage (native to China, they are thought to be a hybrid of a regular lemon and a mandarin orange), they are sweeter than the varieties we find year-round and their rinds, as well as their flesh, are equally usable to flavor dishes. It is fascinating to see (and taste!) how chefs are using these fruits — sometimes even showcasing them — to enhance savory and sweet dishes alike. It seems to me that the possibilities are endless.
If you’re wanting a little bit of North Africa in your fridge to draw upon at a moment’s notice, preserving them is super easy. You’ll need lots of Kosher salt, a large wide-mouthed jar, and enough lemons to fill it. To begin, cut 4 slits lengthwise through each lemon, as though you were trying to produce beautiful wedges. It’s important to cut through the skin while keeping the lemon in one piece. Put a layer of salt in the bottom of the jar and begin adding in the lemons, pushing down hard on each one as you do. Keep alternating salt and lemons as you fill the jar. Top it off with lemon juice to ensure a good, airtight environment, and refrigerate for at least 2 weeks or up to one year.
Some recipes call for you to add cinnamon sticks, cloves, black peppercorns, coriander seeds and bay leaves, but I prefer the purity of flavor achieved with the simple combination of lemon and salt. After all, I can always add those ingredients later to anything I am preparing, but I can’t take them away once they’ve insinuated themselves into the preservation process.
When you are ready to use them in a recipe, be sure to rinse them well: You don’t want your meal to be too salty. For Tagines, use the rind only, keeping the pulp for the most unusual tuna sandwich your guests will have ever had.
Chef Hosea Rosenberg offers great tips on how to carve a turkey. Impress your friends and family this Thanksgiving and present a beautifully carved turkey. This is a great video produced by Whole Foods.
Essential Tool Box
- Carving knife
- Cutting Board
- Serving Platter