Now that things are back to normal after the Christmas crazies, it is time to take to the kitchen again for relaxing weekend cooking. Time to stock up your pantry with wondrous items and cook for the love of it, not just because you have a swarm of hungry Christmas mouths to feed.
This one is all about going back to basics. Making something that takes a lot of time, but little effort. It is about the process that naturally happens without your involvement that creates the final product – you are just the facilitator. Something you can prepare in between making other things, to later enjoy the spoils of. Something that you will likely not have used often in your cooking (unless you are of Indian or North African descent), but something you will easily find excuses to put in everything once you have it in abundance.
Preserved lemon is gloriously tart, sweet and a little bitter, without the face crumpling result of eating fresh lemon. In this incarnation, the sought after element is the rind which will elevate your dish to the next plane. It works wonders when paired with roast chicken, seafood, olives and more, and can be added to salads, couscous, risotto and pasta dishes.
You will only need lemons and rock salt to make this magic happen and it will take about 15 minutes to put together and bottle before the waiting game begins. My trick was to put the bottle in the back of the pantry and diarise it’s readiness four weeks later.
The resulting preserved lemon jars make wonderful foodie gifts and will light up the faces of any recipients.
150g coarse rock salt
Wash each lemon thoroughly and pat completely dry with paper towel. Taking a knife slice each lemon into quarters being sure not to cut right through the lemon (see image above). Pack each lemon with rock salt. As you finish each lemon place it in a large sterilised preserving jar ensuring that you fill every possible space with the lemons and pack as many as possible into the jar.
As you pack in the lemons, they will begin to release their juice. Once you have fit as many lemons as possible into the jar, use the juice of any remaining lemons to top up the juice till the jar is full and the lemons completely covered with juice (it is important to ensure the lemons are completely covered or those that are uncovered will mould).
Seal the jar tightly and leave in a cool dark place for at least 4 weeks – 6 weeks before eating. To use, cut the flesh and pith from the rind and thinly slice the rind to be added to recipes.
Look out for a coming recipe featuring preserved lemon, olives and chicken.