On evenings when we feel motivated, we’ll often decide to open one of our many recipes books and try to make something exotic and exciting. We flick through, looking at lots of colourful pictures and we scan ingredient lists ticking off what we have until we find something unusual that sounds too hard to acquire, we dismiss it and open up the drawer of take-out menus again.
But there’s one dish with lots of friendly ingredients and just one unusual one that seems to throw people. The popular Moroccan Chicken tagine is a dish that many people know and enjoy and have their own version of, but all too often they omit one of the key ingredients that makes it so authentic. This elusive ingredient doesn’t need to be overlooked because it’s so easy to prepare at home! The ingredient in question is none other than the humble and underrated preserved lemon!
It’s a real game-changer in North African cooking and will transform your recipes from good to AMAZING! What’s more:
– They’re really versatile and pretty much make anything taste really exciting
– They’re easy and quick to prepare*
– They’ll last for ages (as the name would suggest!)
*prep IS quick, you really only need 10 minutes… but then you’ve got to wait 3 weeks for operation preservation to complete!
So what makes them so necessary?
They bring this lovely intensely zingy flavour that really completes a dish. They have none of the sour, bitter tartness, and all of the warmth and lemony-ness that you know and love, but better.
Where do you use them?
They’re crucial in Moroccan Tagines, but they can go much further than that.
Use them in salad dressings, drizzled over quinoa or other grains, use them to flavour pilaf rice, squeeze over houmous and salsas for another level of flavour. You can even stuff them inside chicken breasts and wrap them in prosciutto and roast!
Here’s how to make them:
You will need:
- 4 ripe lemons
- water (and a kettle)
- Sterilise your jar!
- Rinse 3 lemons well and cut off both ends of each lemon.
- Stand the lemons upwards and cut them (almost) into quarters, slicing down about ¾ of the way so that you leave the slices attached at the bottom end.Put 1 tsp of salt into the pulp of each lemon and 1 tsp of salt into your jar.
- Put a lemon into the jar, cut side down. Press down firmly so that some juice is squeezed out.
- Put 1 tsp of salt on top of the lemon, and then repeat this with the other 2 lemons, putting
them in on top.
- By now, the jar should have some lemon juice in it from all the pressing down and squeezing. Fill the jar to half way with lemon juice using your extra lemon if necessary.
- Fill up the rest of the jar with boiled water that has cooled.
- Put the lid on and let it sit on the counter top for 3 days, giving it a shake and spin every day, then put it in the fridge for 3 weeks before using.
- That’s it! Once they’re ready, they’ll keep in the fridge for over 6 months!
Normally you’d get rid of the pulp and seeds, wash the rind to remove excess salt and then to finely chop it up and put it into your dishes. But you can just rinse a whole slice and use the pulp too. These do last ages, but for me, they never last more than a couple of weeks because I love putting them in whatever I’m cooking and seeing what great things they do the dishes!