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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pucker Up

This week is certainly turning out to be a salute to the lemon.  I am happy to report that I am working my way through my Costco purchase in grand style.

One of the really nice things about writing this blog is that I have come back into touch with so many people from my past.  In fact, it's an added bonus I never even thought about when I first got started on this project last October. I've had dozens of emails from people I know or knew and even more from people who I have never met.  It's thrilling.  Really.

So, the point of all this is that I've gotten lots of responses on the lemons.  Suzan, a good friend of mine from California and the mother of Charlie and Kate's very best friends in elementary school in Los Angeles, thought that chicken piccata sounded good.  So Suzan, stay tuned tomorrow for my favorite chicken piccata recipe.

Steve, the father of a girl Kate used to play tennis with (Morgan is now off at college), suggested preserved lemons, which I thought was inspired.  I've actually made preserved lemons, and they are so easy that it would be a crime to either buy them or omit them from a recipe.  Often preserved lemons are used in tagine cooking and they add a unique and delicious taste to the finished product.  When you see how easy they are to make you'll feel inspired to whip up a tagine.  (Well, maybe tagine isn't quite something you just whip up just like that, but you'll feel inspired just the same.)

The Moroccan Chicken Tagine recipe below is one of my favorites.  It's very easy to make and has a really complex flavor to it.  It's simple enough to make during the week for dinner with your family but interesting enough to make for guests.  Serve it with a little couscous and you're ready to go.

And of course, who can forget lemon cake.  I have one of those for you as well but I think I'll save that for next week.  In the meantime, my lemons still look really nice in their bowl on the counter.

Recipe:  Preserved Lemons
(Gail Arnold)


2 to 3 lemons
2 tablespoons kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 250.  Cut the lemons into sixths lengthwise, sprinkle with the salt and place in a glass dish.  Cover the lemons with water and cook in the oven for 3 hours.  Allow them to cool and then refrigerate.

Note:  Preserved lemons can be refrigerated for up to 6 months as long as they are in a glass canning jar.

Recipe:  Moroccan Chicken Tagine
(Gail Arnold)


6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 large onion, grated (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil
1 to 2 preserved lemons (see recipe above)
8 chicken thighs, with skin and bones
Stems from parsley and cilantro, tied with twine
1/4 teaspoon powdered saffron or 1/4 teaspoon powdered turmeric or 4 strands saffron
1 cup pitted Moroccan or Greek pitted olives
1/2 bunch Italian parsley, about 1/4 cup chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, about 1/4 cup chopped

In a large bowl, mix the garlic, cumin, ginger, paprika, salt and pepper, 1/2 cup grated onion, and the oil.

Rinse the preserved lemons, and remove the pulp.  Reserve the lemon peel for later use.

Add the lemon pulp to the mixing bowl.  Add the chicken.  Mix everything together and place in a large plastic bag to marinate overnight in the refrigerator.  (24 hours gives the chicken the best flavor.)

In a large Dutch oven, place the chicken and the marinade, add the stems of the parsley and cilantro, the rest of the grated onion, the saffron (or turmeric,) and 1 1/2 cups water.  Bring to a boil over high heat, turn down to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for 30 minutes.

Remove the cover, stir the chicken and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes or until the chicken is tender.

Remove the chicken to a serving dish and cover with foil to keep warm.  Keep the sauce on the stove and begin to reduce.

Slice the preserved lemon peel into thin slices and add it to the sauce along with the olives, parsley, and cilantro.  Reduce until the sauce is just a little thick.  This shouldn't take more than about 5 minutes.

Uncover the chicken and remove the skin from the chicken.  Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.

1 comment:

  1. This is too delicious for words. Preserved lemons are wonderful things indeed. I'd love to find a million more uses for them than just simply tagines (I don't mean simple in the gustatory sense, but in the "only" sense). If you have any ideas for that, Nadine...