Preserved Lemons

I don’t think we ever think of lemons as having a season but now is the best time in the year for Spanish lemons which is where Riverford’s lemons come. So I decided to make a batch of Preserved Lemons. So you want to use the very best lemons you can find – organic and unwaxed. These lemons will keep for up to a year and are a fabulous addition to all sorts of dishes. You can use the lemons and I love the liquid as well in cous cous, salads and sauces and of course all sorts of Moroccan dishes including the classic Tagine.

Preserved Lemons in Salt  From Claudia Roden

Lemons (Organic, un-waxed if possible)

Kosher salt or Natural Rock Salt

Large Kilner Jar

Scrub the lemons under running water with a stiff brush to remove any dirt and impurities. Starting at one end, cut the lemons in half lengthwise, but stop about 1/2 an inch before you reach the bottom. Repeat the cut perpendicularly so you have cut each lemon lengthwise in a “X” formation, but not all the way through; they should still be attached at the bottom, about 1/2 an inch. Liberally sprinkle salt on the inside of the lemons. Hold them open with your fingers and really get the salt inside them. It is a little bit like those fortune-teller origami toys kids make out of paper. Place each lemon in the jar, pushing down on them and squeezing them to release the juices. Keep adding Lemons until you absolutely cannot get any more in. The lemons should be completely submerged in juice. If they are not, top up with some extra lemon juice. Seal the jar.  Let the jar sit at room temperature. Every few days, turn the jar upside down and shake it to distribute the salt and liquids. The lemons will be ready in three weeks, or so, when the rinds have softened.

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Sausages Stew with Braised Fennel and Lemony Potatoes

I am always looking for new things to do with fennel. This next recipe is based on a recipe which we saw on Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes. It was called Fennel Sausages with Lemon Potatoes. It comes from Puglia, in Italy and it sounded delicious. The fennel is excellent at cutting the fattiness of the sausages and lemon gives a delicious clean fragrance. I always find it really difficult to find good Italian sausages. You can get them at Vallebona which is always worth a trip, but only opens Saturdays and I always seem to forget. However, I do drive down Leopold Road every day and have discovered that Roberts & Edwards do their own Italian Sausage.  It is not terribly authentic and heavier on the chilli, than the fennel, by quite delicious all the same. If I am using these sausages I add a couple of heads of fennel and a teaspoon of fennel seeds to the recipe to compensate for flavour. I also add a little more liquid than Rick, as I quite like the stew-like consistence that it results in. I think of it as a “Summer Stew.” I have amended his recipe but you can find the original in  Mediterranean Escapes or even watch it online.

Sausages Stew with Braised Fennel and Lemony Potatoes 2

Finally, I usually throw in a few chipolatas from my daughter who prefers a plainer sausage, and this simple dish then happily pleases the whole family and is ready in no time at all.

Sausages Stew with Braised Fennel and Lemony Potatoes

Sausages Stew with Braised Fennel and Lemony Potatoes

Serves 4

The perfect sausages for this dish are those from specialist Italian or Continental delicatessens, Luganega, which come in one long length

Based on a recipe by Rick Stein From Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes

450g/1lb luganega sausages (available from specialist Italian or Continental grocers), or other nice meaty pork chipolatas

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced

2 heads of fennel, trimmed and each cut into 6 or 8 wedges through the root.

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

750g/1½lb small waxy potatoes, peeled and each cut into quarters

½ lemon, pared zest and juice only

4 fresh bay leaves

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Twist the sausages into 7.5cm/3in lengths and separate them into individual sausages.

Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a 26cm/10in shallow flameproof casserole dish. Add the sausages and fry until nicely browned all over. Lift them onto a plate and set aside.

Add the fennel, onion, garlic and another tablespoon of oil to the casserole dish and fry until soft and lightly golden. Stir in the potatoes, lemon zest and juice, bay leaves, ½ teaspoon salt and ten turns of the black pepper mill. Top with the sausages and add enough water to cover the potatoes and fennel

Cover tightly with the lid and bake for 30-40 minutes until the potatoes are tender. You can also do this on the stove top if you like. Adjust seasoning before serving.

fennel