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Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Mighty Meyer Lemon: Recipe

Meredith's Food for Life
If you've never smelled a Meyer Lemon you are missing a culinary delight that tickles the nose as well as the imagination. A Meyer Lemon is a cross between a lemon and (either - agriculturalists aren't 100% sure) a Mandarin or a regular orange. They are native to China and according to legend, were "discovered" for Americans by Alice Waters in her California Mecca, Chez Panisse.

They are gorgeous - their skin is smooth and buttery yellow.  They are smaller than traditional lemons and much rounder. But it's the smell they emit when you slice them open - it's unlike anything you've smelled before - it's bright and has that familiar lemony smell but there is something else there - a punch of orange that catches you off-guard and I am certain they're grown in a field of fresh herbs. They are delightful and their simplicity is all you need - I use them to dress my salads and there is no need for oil this way. Recently I saw a list touting 100 things you can do with a Meyer Lemon but the only thing I wanted to do was pair them  with one of my very favorite Sunday dinner foods - the mighty chicken.

I roasted the chicken together with the lemons and thought, briefly, about adding parsley and garlic during the cooking process but stopped short as I felt it would be overkill and somehow might actually ruin the flavor of of this simple dish.  Instead, I opted for some coarse Kosher salt and a few shakes of the equally amazing Herbs de Provence. The result? Perfection - a perfectly flavored chicken.

Meredith's Food for Life
Dinner was rounded out with steamed asparagus and lemon, whole wheat couscous, oven roasted sweet potato "fries" and a salad of radish, cucumber, red onion, yellow pepper, cherry tomatoes and toasted whole wheat bread lightly drizzled with red wine vinaigrette.

I purchased this package of Meyer Lemons from the local market - $3.99 for 6 of them - or roughly a pound.  After making this recipe I have a few left and plan to use them for the remainder of the week.

Roast Chicken with Meyer Lemons
2 lbs. boneless, skinless, chicken thighs
2 lbs. chicken legs, skin peeled back or removed
3 Meyer Lemons, quartered + 1 more, halved
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence
1/2 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

Preheat oven to 450.  Spray the bottom of a heavy roasting pan with non-stick spray. Using a paper towel, dry each piece of chicken thoroughly and place snugly next to one another into the middle of the pan - make two or three rows, depending on the size of the pan, if necessary. Do not crowd the chicken or stack them but make sure they are close together.

Sprinkle the chicken with salt - each piece should have salt on it. Next, sprinkle the chicken with the Herbs de Provence. Place a quartered piece of lemon at each point where two pieces of chicken meet. Use more lemons, if needed.

Roast about an hour and forty minutes. Meanwhile, combine the parsley and garlic in a small bowl.

Remove chicken from the heat when done and squeeze remaining half lemon lightly over the tops of the pieces of chicken and sprinkle with the minced garlic and parsley. Serve!

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