Monday, April 2, 2012

Preserving Lemons

A restaurant called Nomad on the Lower East Side serves the best couscous I've ever had. The secret? Little bits of preserved lemon. We ordered filet mignon brochettes (basically shish kebabs), served over this fabulous couscous. Meyer lemons were on sale at Fairway today, so I decided to try to make some myself. I have a lamb tagine planned in a few weeks, and I'd like to come close to making the best couscous we've ever had.

Moroccan Preserved Lemons

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

Place 2 tablespoons of salt in the bottom of a sterilized jar. 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 lengthwize, 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. Pry the lemons open and generously sprinkle salt all over the insides and outsides of the lemons. 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. Seal the jar and let sit at room temperature for a couple days. Turn the jar upside down ocassionally. Put in refrigerator and let sit, again turning upside down ocassionally, for at least 3 weeks, until lemon rinds soften.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. Store in refrigerator for up to 6 months.

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