Pho - Vietnamese Soup

Pho - Vietnamese Soup
One of our favorite dishes - Pho

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sara's Preserved Meyer Lemons

David bought me a new cookbook for Valentine's day and in it I found a recipe for preserved Meyer lemons, which I had never heard of before.  As I was reading recipes I found many of the recipes called for PML.  I was intrigued and when I mentioned it to David, he said, "Oh yeah, my Mom just made a new recipe that called for preserved lemons.  You should e-mail her and ask her about it."  I should have known Sara knew all about this fascinating secret weapon.  In fact, she had some curing and sent some over to us the next day.  Thank you Sara, you're the best!  Now, I find myself hearing about all kinds of dishes and recipes calling for these intensely flavorful and sweet lemons.

Sara said you can put the preserved lemons in anything.  Be sure to rinse the salt off the lemon before using.  After removing and discarding the pulp cut up just the rind, very small, and mix into spaghetti sauce, soup, sprinkle on a salad, or practically anything.  Don't use too much, 1/4 of a lemon is the most she's ever used and she says you can definitely taste it. 

Here's the recipe Sara used to preserve Meyer lemons:  (I'm including the recipe from my cookbook also after this one because it has some variations)

8-10 Meyer lemons*, scrubbed very clean
1/2 cup kosher salt, more if needed
Extra fresh squeezed lemon juice, if needed
Sterilized quart canning jar

* You don't need to use Meyer lemons, regular lemons will do, it's just that the milder Meyer lemons work very well for preserving in this way.

1 Place 2 Tbsp of salt in the bottom of a sterilized jar.
2 One by one, prepare the lemons in the following way. Cut off any protruding stems from the lemons, and cut 1/4 inch off the tip of each lemon. Cut the lemons as if you were going to cut them in half lengthwise, starting from the tip, but do not cut all the way. Keep the lemon attached at the base. Make another cut in a similar manner, so now the lemon is quartered, but again, attached at the base.
3 Pry the lemons open and generously sprinkle salt all over the insides and outsides of the lemons.
4 Pack the lemons in the jar, squishing them down so that juice is extracted and the lemon juice rises to the top of the jar. Fill up the jar with lemons, make sure the top is covered with lemon juice. Add more fresh squeezed lemon juice if necessary. Top with a couple tablespoons of salt.
5 Seal the jar and let sit at room temperature for a couple days. Turn the jar upside down occasionally. Put in refrigerator and let sit, again turning upside down occasionally, for at least 3 weeks, until lemon rinds soften.
6 To use, remove a lemon from the jar and rinse thoroughly in water to remove salt. Discard seeds before using. Discard the pulp before using, if desired.
7 Store in refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Here's the recipe from my new cookbook, "Bottega" written by one of the wine country's top chefs, Michael Chiarello.  I'm so enjoying soaking up every recipe and every page....David did good!  Thank you sweet man...I love you more than words can convey!!

Curing Salt
4 cups kosher salt, plus more if needed
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 TBSP black peppercorns
1 TBSP juniper berries
1 tsp fennel seeds

12 lemons, preferably Meyer

FOR THE CURING SALT: In a large bowl, combine the 4 cups salt, the sugar, red pepper flakes, peppercorns, juniper berries and fennel seeds.  Stir to blend.

Score the lemons from top to bottom by cutting through the rind to the flesh.  (Don't cut all the way through the lemons.)  Pack the salt mixture into the cuts in each lemon and place the salted lemons into a large jar, until the jar is full.  Pack the remaining salt mixture in the jar so the space around the lemons is taken up by salt.  (If you run out of curing salt, just pour in extra kosher salt until the jar is full and every lemon is submerged in salt.)  Seal the jar and store in a cool, dark place or in your refrigerator for 30 to 40 days.

When you're ready to cook with a preserved lemon, pull it from the jar, scoop out and discard the flesh, and use just the rind.  Once you open the jar, store in your refrigerator.

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