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Preserved Lemons & Lamb

December 14, 2009

I have a tendency to over-save foods that I rarely use (cherry preserves, I’m looking at you).  I end up having to toss things I’ve put work into preserving because they go past their “good-by” dates.

Preserving lemons is essentially taking these minimally chopped up lemons and shoving them in a jar with massive amounts of salt.

Last year I decided to use some of our endless supply of lemons to make salted preserved lemons.  I had no idea what I’d use them for–I’m not sure I’d ever made Moroccan food before, and that’s where you generally find them. Also, they looked pretty gross after they sat in the fridge for a few months (going on a year now).  Slimy isn’t normally a good thing with preserved food, but through the glass it looked distinctly slime covered. But I’d heard that they keep well so I kept them, hoping some day I’d be inspired to try them in something.

Freshly preserved last January

Since the weather got cold I’ve been playing more with cooking meats.  It’s not something I have a lot of experience with, as we normally eat vegetarian at home.  But my stomach has not been happy with vegetarian sources of protein lately.  Beans = evil stomach pain for hours and hours.  It’s gross.  Ask Paul, I’m sure he will vouch for me on this.  Actually, don’t ask him.  Regardless, my body needs animal products right now.

So I was browsing through food blogs and came across a recipe for slow braised lamb with preserved lemons.  Mmmmmm…  In the interest of not going to more than one store, I improvised a bit with the ingredients.

Here is my Trader Joe’s version of this recipe (using my own preserved lemons):

1/2 jar of TJ’s yellow fire roasted bell peppers
1 pound TJ’s lamb (I have no idea what cut it was)
1 ½ tablespoons ground cumin
1 ½ tablespoons tandoori spice mix
2 preserved lemon quarters, rinsed, pith and flesh discarded, rind chopped
5 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped in large pieces
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
½ cup golden raisins
2 cups TJ’s couscous mix
2 cups arugula
Greek yogurt to garnish

Place lamb, spices, salt, lemon, raisins, and garlic in a bowl and toss.  Set aside.

In a large pan (we used our cast iron) heat the olive oil.  Add the onions and cook over a medium heat for a few minutes.  Turn the heat down to low, add the lamb mixture, and cook uncovered for about an hour (or until the meat is tender).  While it is cooking I occasionally stirred the mixture around, flipped the meat, and covered the lamb with the mixture to really soak the flavors in.

After getting the meat started I cooked up the couscous and set it aside.  When the meat was ready we served it over the couscous with the arugula on the side.  I put yogurt on the top of my meat, because I love yogurt.  I think Paul left it off his.

Not the best picture, but you get the idea

The meal was really good, but the highlight was definitely the lemons mixed with the spices and the olive oil/meat juices.  The preserved rinds taste totally different than fresh off the lemon rinds.  They are tangy and delicious.  I need to find other excuses to make use of them.  Any ideas?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 14, 2009 6:48 pm

    What about chutney?
    Or a lemon pasta with a creamy Alfredo sauce?

  2. inoakpark permalink*
    December 14, 2009 6:51 pm

    Dani-Do you have a good chutney recipe? That sounds yummy.

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