I’ve had a number of requests about what to do with preserved lemons following my post a few days ago. Preserved lemons are easy to do – choose small lemons if you can, and unwaxed. Chop into slices, quarters – whatever – and pack into a sterilised jar with seasalt, lemon juice and olive oil. Leave for at least two months (turning the jar occasionally). Then you can use them in all sorts of dishes. Here are a few of my favourites:
Lamb tagine. Slowly braise chopped shoulder of lamb with lots of onions, tomatoes, a teaspoon of cumin and a 2.5cm stick of crushed cinnamon stick. Sometimes I put prunes or unsulphured apricots in too. If you have a tagine then use it, if not a saucepan on a low heat or a covered dish in a low oven will do just as well. When cooked, take a couple of pieces of preserved lemon, wash the salt off then chop the rind (discard the pulp) into the lamb. ~Some people put the rind in early but I find this makes the sauce a tad bitter. I prefer to put in at the end and get the ‘bite’ of salted lemon with the meat juices. I serve this with flatbread.
Or, make a lemony roast chicken. Pound 2 small preserved lemons (washed and minus pulp) together with 2 cloves of garlic, a teaspoon of cumin and a deseeded red chilli (or keep the seeds in if you want hot chicken) with 2 tbsp olive oil. Simply smear all over a chicken then roast uncovered and quickly in a hot oven (but add about 150ml boiling water to the pan – perverse but true). You will end up with fragrant moist chicken with a thick juice in the pan which you can use as gravy. Serve with couscous and salad.
Or try roast red pepper and fennel salad with preserved lemon and olives (my take on a Moro recipe). Roast red peppers on a long fork or skewer over a hot flame until the flesh is soft and the skin of the pepper is black. This is a bit messy (and don’t even attempt to do this on an electric hob. Use the grill or your camping stove instead!) Immediately put the red peppers in a sealed bag or a folded down plastic carrier bag. After about 10 minutes, slide the blackened skin off the peppers (but leave a bit on, it’s charred loveliness is divine). Slice the peppers into thick slices. In a thick bottomed pan, heat some olive oil till it’s smoking. Then add wedges or fans of fennel. Don’t stir it around, you want it to just get golden. Then add a teaspoon of sugar and turn them carefully and cook for another couple of minutes. They should still be firm. Add to the peppers. Then add chopped salty Kalamata olives and the rinsed chopped rind of a preserved lemon. Drizzle with oregano, olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. It won’t need any further seasoning.