When Life Gives You Lemons

After making a jarful of preserved Meyer lemons (then using some up and topping off the jar again), I still had something like 8 lemons to use up, and I have been seeking out ways to put them to best use. Nolan made off with one to play with, and several more became a little batch of lemon curd, which I featured on the site a while back. Of course, that turned my problem into ways to use up whole lemons and lemon curd. Finally I decided to baste the lemon curd over a whole roasted chicken and toss a whole lemon inside. It is a recipe I’ve made once before with great results, and the convection roast setting on my new oven caused the skin to blacken remarkably quickly this time, so this wasn’t the most photogenic meal.

It didn’t taste burnt, however; the skin actually had an intense lemon flavor, and the garlic and herbs rubbed underneath helped flavor the meat as well. Next time I find myself with a surplus of lemon curd, I’ll be making this one again, perhaps with the addition of some lemon curd directly in the herb mixture and brushed on top at a later point in the cooking process. The potatoes, a Russet variant of the ones I gushed over not too long ago, were delicious, and some broccoli florets thrown into the mix provided a serving of vegetables with no more time invested.

If you were keeping count, you’ll know that I still had 4 lemons leftover, and I decided to pair one of the remnants with fillets of salmon. My first instinct was to prepare them al cartoccio (or en papillote, if your tendencies are French): folded up inside a packet of foil or parchment, so that the fish would steam with lemon slices, onion, and herbs. In the end, however, I decided to wing it, layering thin slices of lemon over the salmon and roasting them in the oven together until the fish was cooked through and the lemon beginning to caramelize.

Served on a bed of couscous with garlic and peas, this was a delicious meal. The lemon slices took the brunt of the heat, relinquishing their juices and sugars as they shielded the salmon. I probably could have let them go a little longer, or even cooked the dish entirely under the broiler, as I do with a similar trick that makes use of the salmon skin. In any case, the end result was as delicious as it was beautiful, and certainly a good use of a Meyer lemon! Now if I could just decide how to use those last three…

Salmon with Caramelized Lemons

Olive oil
2 salmon fillets, skin removed
1/2 tsp dried dill or Greek oregano
1 Meyer lemon, thinly sliced, pips removed
1 tsp granulated sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375F. Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of an appropriately-sized casserole, and season the salmon fillets on both sides with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the dill evenly over the fillets, and top with overlapping slices of lemon to cover their surface. Sprinkle the sugar lightly over the lemon slices, and season with a pinch more salt and pepper. Squeeze the juice from any unused lemon slices over the lot.

Roast at 375F for about 15 minutes, until the fish is cooked through and the lemons are just starting to brown up. If the fish is done before the lemons have any color, give it a minute or two under the broiler. Serve with rice pilaf or couscous, and be sure to sample the lemons themselves along with the fish.

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