Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Litha Feasting: Lemon preserving and Lamb Recipes

If you are like us any Sabbat requires celebrating the good fortune of food around us. For this Sabbat we are lucky to have some lamb from the nearby salt marshes and I thought as we are celebrating the longest day of sunshine we would go for a Moroccan dish as this has some lovely ingredients such as apricots and lemons, reminiscent of the sun in shape and colour. In searching for recipes I found that the one I wanted to use needed preserved lemons. Now I know you can buy these, but half the fun of this path is learning together with Littleun so we decided to make ours (plus it’s a lot cheaper!).

For the lemons we have the following recipe and all I’d say is if you have any cuts do put on some food gloves first!

8-10 Meyer lemons*, scrubbed very clean
1/2 cup salt, more if needed
Extra fresh squeezed lemon juice, if needed
Sterilized quart canning jar

* You don't need to use Meyer lemons, regular lemons will do, it's just that the milder Meyer lemons work very well for preserving in this way.

1 Place 2 Tbsp of salt in the bottom of a sterilized jar.
2 One by one, prepare the lemons in the following way. Cut off any protruding stems from the lemons, and cut 1/4 inch off the tip of each lemon. Cut the lemons as if you were going to cut them in half lengthwise, starting from the tip, but do not cut all the way. Keep the lemon attached at the base. Make another cut in a similar manner, so now the lemon is quartered, but again, attached at the base.
3 Pry the lemons open and generously sprinkle salt all over the insides and outsides of the lemons.
4 Pack the lemons in the jar, squishing them down so that juice is extracted and the lemon juice rises to the top of the jar. Fill up the jar with lemons; make sure the top is covered with lemon juice. Add more fresh squeezed lemon juice if necessary. Top with a couple tablespoons of salt.
5 Seal the jar and let sit at room temperature for a couple days. Turn the jar upside down occasionally. Put in refrigerator and let sit, again turning upside down occasionally, for at least 3 weeks, until lemon rinds soften.
6 To use, remove a lemon from the jar and rinse thoroughly in water to remove salt. Discard seeds before using. Discard the pulp before using, if desired.
7 Store in refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Now that we have done this we can use them on Litha to add to our Tagine recipe:

Moroccan Lamb Tagine

1.5kg shoulder of lamb
1tsp coriander seeds
1tsp cumin seeds
olive oil
2 or 3 preserved lemons, chopped
2 onions
1 good handful dried apricots, chopped
1 good handful sultanas
Black olives
Fresh mint, roughly chopped to serve


In a non-stick fry pan gently toast the coriander and cumin seeds until they become fragrant but don't allow to burn.
Tip the seeds into a pestle and mortar and crush with a pinch of salt.
Add the ground seeds to the lamb with a good drizzle of olive oil, black pepper, and the preserved lemons. Work all the flavours into the meat and leave to marinate.
Roughly chop the onions and put in the base of your tagine.
Then add the apricots and the sultanas followed by the lamb.
Next add some black olives, mix well to distribute the flavours and put the lid on.
Cook for about 3-4 hours at 160°C.
When cooked, sprinkle with the chopped mint and serve.

Oh I can’t wait!

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