There are a handful of condiments I try to never run out of. Mayonnaise—homemade or otherwise. Lao gan ma (chili crisp). Good, strong Dijon mustard. Tajín. Texas Pete. Lime pickle. Preserved lemons.
Salt Your Lemons Tonight for a Punchier Dinner Tomorrow
But I plow right through the preserved lemons. Not just because I cook a lot of tagine (which I do) but because their intensely citrusy, floral pungency has so much range beyond their native cuisines of North Africa and the Middle East. Whatever needs a jolt of fruity, funky, salty acidity—sauces, seafood, grain bowls, sandwich fillings—preserved lemons just work. Which is why I occasionally run out.
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It’s easy enough to make your own, but it takes time—6 to 8 weeks. After curing that long, the rind softens and the lemons take on this uniquely bright, funky flavor.
But if you need them for, say, tomorrow night’s dinner and your local market doesn’t stock them, you can approximate their punch and soft texture with this done-in-a-day facsimile. It’s based on a version from Jeff Cerciello, chef at Los Angeles’s Farmshop.
Just as with real preserved lemons, you simply slice or chop these up, rind and all, and stir them into the food.
Secrets to Approximating Real Preserved Lemons in a Day
These lemons lack the intensity of the real deal but still boast plenty of complexity thanks to the following three tricks.
- Thinly slice the lemons. This maximizes their surface area so that salt and sugar can penetrate more quickly.
- Add sugar. A little bit of sweetness helps offset acidity and bitterness.
- Add oil. Oil helps soften the pith.
24-Hour Preserved Lemons
Makes 1 cup
Total Time: 10 minutes, plus 24 hours curing
3 lemons, rinsed
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons table salt
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. Slice lemons thin crosswise.
2. Toss lemons with sugar and salt in bowl. Stir in oil.
3. Transfer lemons to bowl or pack into jar, cover, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours or up to 2 weeks.
4. Chop or mince lemon as desired.
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Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!
Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.
Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!
John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.