When life gives you lemons, make preserved lemons (preserved meyer lemons to be specific!). Living in Phoenix, we have access to plentiful citrus, and I just so happen to have a tree full of Meyer lemons in my backyard right now. The first time I heard of preserving lemons was when I attended a cooking class in the south of France with Kathie Alex, who ran a cooking school out of the former house of Paul and Julia Child, La Pitchoune, located on Jean and Simone “Simca” Beck’s property outside of Grasse.
Kathie took cooking classes from Simca before working as a stagiaire at Roger Vergé’s Le Moulin de Mougins, where she met Julia Child. When Julia sold La Pitchoune after Paul’s death, Kathie rented the house from the new owners, later purchasing it. Kathie taught many of Simca and Julia’s favorite tricks and go-to ingredients…one of those being how to preserve lemons!
The art of preserving lemons originated in North Africa and the Mediterranean, and is done by using a salty brine that softens the skin of the lemons and mellows the sharp flavor. The result is a unique umami quality that adds a subtle and distinctive citrus note to a range of dishes.
I recently partnered with Corrine Kozlak, a food stylist from Chicago who lives part of the year in our sunny desert town. We met through a mutual friend, and she came up with the idea of sharing recipes for citrus, starting with one of my personal favorites…lemons! You can literally add the preserved lemons, or juice thereof, to just about anything, and Corrine has created a Chicken Piccata recipe that will wow family and friends.
While it may sound a bit intimidating, preserving lemons is actually quite simple, and Corrine developed and tested the perfect recipe that I have attached below. Please note that even though this is a Preserved Meyer Lemon Recipe, you could use regular lemons as well. It is a great way to use lemons year round. In this link you will find other uses for preserved lemons by Mom’s Kitchen Ideas, and if you have a favorite preserved lemons recipe, drop me a line in the comment box! Happy preserving! xoM 🍋🍋
Preserved Meyer Lemon Recipe
- 1-2 Glass hinged jar with a rubber gasket (A metal cover may corrode from the salt)
- Electric Juicer
- 1/2 quart glass jar, sterilized (holds about 6 cups)
- 18 Meyer lemons, washed and dried
- 1/4 cup Kosher salt
- 2 tbsps sugar
- 1 tsp whole back peppercorns
- 4 bay leaves
- Cut off the top and bottom of each lemon, just enough to remove the stem and blossom ends.
- Slice each lemon in quarters, leaving it attached at the very bottom.
- Mix together the salt and sugar. Pour an equal amount into the cut sides of the lemons. Reshape each lemon and place them in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 12-24 hours. Reserve the salt and juice in the bottom of the bowl.
- Using an electric juicer, juice the lemons. Set the juice aside and discard the pulp vesicles and seeds.
- Layer the rinds into the sterilized jar, skins sides up, and pack tightly. Sprinkle the peppercorns and bay leaves as you layer the lemons.
- Pour the reserved juice and salt from the bowl, completely covering the lemon rinds (you may need more lemon juice to cover).
- Close the jar and set aside at room temperature for 3-4 weeks, or until rinds are tender. Refrigerate the preserved lemons for up to 6 months.
- To use the preserved lemons, chop the rinds (option to rinse them first if you are on a low sodium diet), and add them to a recipe. Are great cooked or raw!
Chicken Piccata with Preserved Meyer Lemons
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved horizontally
- salt and pepper
- all purpose flour
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or more if needed
- 1 tbsp garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, peeled and sliced lengthwise
- 1/3 preserved lemon, chopped
- 3/4 cup chicken stock
- 4 tsp capers, drained
- lemon juice, salt and pepper, to taste
- fresh parsley, coarsely chopped for garnish
- Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge each piece in the flour, and pat off any excess.
- In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the butter and all of the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the chicken in batches until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken and set aside.
- Cook the shallot and garlic until slightly browned and fragrant. Add the chicken stock and simmer until reduced by half.
- Add the preserved lemons. Reduce heat to low, add the capers and melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter.
- Season with salt and pepper and lemon juice, to taste. Serve the chicken piccata topped with the preserved Meyer lemons and a side of linguine and a green vegetable.