Sunday, November 18, 2007
quick and dirty way to make preserved lemons
A couple of months ago when i was in between jobs and had a lot of time on my hands, i cooked a lot. one of the things i made was preserved lemons, something that i've been yearning to try for years now. i'm occasionally running across some recipe that calls for two tablespoons of sliced preserved lemons or something or other, and it was always such a letdown that i couldn't make the recipe immediately. a "real" preserved lemon takes, what, a month to make? it's encased in salt and left to hang out and do it's thing in a container at room temperature. i think Nigella Lawson has one that can be done in the freezer and takes less time.
so when the boy told me he had a preserved lemon recipe that took a day or over night to make, i begged him to share it. I call it the Quick & Dirty Way to make preserved lemons.
this is not a traditional preserved lemon because, as you'll see, it's way more fragrant and has more spices in the mix than an honest-to-goodness authentic one. but if you're longing to make your house smell fantastic, put aside a day to do this; put Casablanca or even Lawrence of Arabia on the DVD player, and daydream that you're transported to North Africa. i've never been, but i imagine this is what a Moroccan spice market smells like (I've a vivid imagination, and daydreaming is something i'm no stranger to).
10 lemons, cut in half vertically. you'll first want to scrub them clean, including any green ink left over from the word "sunkist"
1 stick cinnamon
2 bay leaves
2 whole cloves
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1 tablespoon white peppercorns (I didn't have any so I used pink peppercorns)
3 cups water
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 cup sugar
5 sprigs thyme
1/4 bunch parsley
1/4 cup kosher salt
Combine all ingredients in a pot:
Bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Do not feel like you should stir this while cooking; in fact I insist that it's best left untouched.
Remove from heat and cool, then put in the fridge until completely chilled. Repeat steps 2 and 3 four or five times until lemons are tender (it may only take 3 passes, my batch did). you will know when they've been through enough passes when the lemon rinds look and feel totally smooshy.
Cool and store in a container, including all the liquid, in the fridge. This will keep about 3 to 4 weeks. Your house will smell like a Moroccan marketplace, minus the smelly camel dung and B.O.
this is what mine looked like after the first pass on the heat:
I'm throwing in the boy's recipe for preserved lemon oil, which can be useful for a lemon-garlic aioli, among other things. this recipe makes an enormous quantity, so do some fractions if you want just a little bit.
3 preserved lemons - gently cleaned of excess spices - leave as much inside flesh as
possible, then quarter.
4 cups canola oil
Puree preserved lemons in food processor.
Add canola oil and puree more.
Store in a clear container in the fridge , shake occasionally.