One of the many things I love about my culinary education was learning about curing.
The introduction of the smoking and curing process was first introduced by our ancestors who were forced to find ways to make their food last in order to survive. They had to smoke meat, fish and poultry or they had to cure produce, fish and a variety of meats using salt. There are several methods for smoking and curing but I’m talking about curing with salt here.
I love citrus and their flavors so I suppose the best (and easiest) place to start was with lemons. Preserved lemons offered the intense flavor without the overpowering sourness. You know, the one that puckers your lips and makes your mouth water.
North Africa, South Asia and also the Middle East use preserved lemons in a lot of their dishes. The cuisines here vary widely which means options to use your preserved lemons in a ton of different dishes.
It took 30 days for me to complete the preservation process. I was concerned the lemons wouldn’t turn out because I didn’t put enough lemon juice in the jar. Towards the end of the process, a cloudy liquid started to form. Luckily, the milky appearance is normal and happens quite often.
I made a couple of dishes using the preserved lemons as ingredients. Kind of like a test recipe for a test product. I cut off a small piece of the lemon and ate it so I could understand what the flavor profile was going to be like.
I created a pan-fried chicken dish with garlic cream and homemade pasta. Using the cleaned lemon segments, I removed the pulp and squeezed the pulp juice onto the chicken. I finished the dish by thinly slicing the lemon rind and tossing it in the pasta and sauce. As a result, it had a distinct lemony garlic flavor throughout the creamy sauce.
The second dish I did was a simple Moroccan chicken dish; at least a variation of it. I used boneless skinless chicken breasts, white wine, onions, garlic and the lemon. I place the chicken over some Basmati rice. The flavor was good but subtle and the dish needed a bit more of a punch. Maybe infusing some of the lemon with the rice would have been good.
My original recipe research called for 6 lemons and so far, I used 2 in my test recipes. I was afraid they would spoil before I used them all so I decided I was going experiment a bit further. Using 2 more lemons, I placed them in my dehydrator for a about 14 hours. I had the idea to reconstitute them in a sauce or a soup but then it occurred to me that I could grind the dried lemons and save them as a powder.
Check out the preserved lemon recipe.