In this recipe for Fennel Preserved Lemons I like to use Meyer lemons instead of regular lemons. Their lemon/mandarin orange hybrid flavor has a yellow-orange flesh and a super smooth rind with a sweeter flavor. As in a previous recipe for Moroccan Preserved Lemons, where I used cinnamon, fennel seed, peppercorns and coriander as a flavoring with the sea salt, I am just using the green top of the fennel. I love the sweet flavor of the fennel and it imparts a delicate nuance to these Meyer lemons.
First off we need to clean with hot water and soap the glass jar these will be going in and get dried and ready. We will be cutting a cross into the lemons – almost to the base, but so that the quarters stay together. Push the sea salt into the lemon, making sure to coat the entire interior.
Don’t be shy either with the sea salt, it’s imperative to really coat each lemon wedge thoroughly. After each one is salted add it carefully to the glass container, arrainging them so they are also attractive to look at while pressing and stacking.
I decided to use fennel fronds as another flavoring agent in these and carefully tucked them in here and there throughout as the lemons were pressed in the jar.
Press each lemon addition to extract as much lemon juice as you can in the process. We will need this to cover the lemons, although sometimes it will take a day or two to completely break down and release their juice.
When you have enough lemons stacked inside and the fennel interspersed for flavor and color press as much as you can down to extract more juice. Here I used 10 Meyer lemons and also added the juice of 2 more to completely cover them. I wiped and cleaned the lid and screwed it on to seal. Shake it to remove any air bubbles.
If there is any room, feel free to add another lemon or two to really crunch these guys together. Now wipe off the jar and store in a cool, dry and dark place for 30 days for the magic to happen.
After 30 days feel free to remove the lemons from the jar for eating. I rinse the lemon off, and using a spoon scoop out the pulp and discard. Some people eat it too, but I don’t care much for it. I want the lemony goodness that the preserving has done to the peel itself. You can chop the preserved lemons and sauté with butter to put in couscous, potatoes or risottos. They work well with garlic, and I find they compliment cilantro in steamed chicken.
You can pair your preserved lemons with olives in the traditional Moroccan tagine, which is braised. Typically, a tagine is a rich stew of lamb, chicken, or fish, and usually includes vegetables or fruit. A tagine is a unique type of ceramic or clay cookware that’s popular in Morocco. The bottom is a wide, circular shallow dish used for both cooking and serving, while the top of the tagine is distinctively shaped into a rounded dome or cone.
This is a definite think ahead recipe, but well worth the effort and patience. Besides the fact that these look so cool, I hope you enjoy these!