Wednesday, March 26, 2008

When Life Gives You Lemons...Roast Them.

I have what you might call a citrus obsession. The one thing that I covet above all others during the winter food season is of course my darling clementine, but that doesn't mean I don't count on all the other lovely citrus fruits to brighten up my meals. This makes sense since I don't have much of a sweet tooth and have always preferred things on the tart side (I'm pretty sure few other children claimed lemon ice cream as their favorite). For years I used various vinegars to cut the fatty flavors of dishes and pull everything together, but have recently discovered the wonders of adding a few drops of lemon or lime juice to deglaze a pan or add a hint of sharpness to a sauce.

Citrus fruits are affordable year round but are especially wallet friendly when they're in season starting in the fall and ending in early spring. Unfortunately for those of us in the northeast, it's difficult to eat these types of fruit locally in bulk since they grow primarily in Florida and California (where the food comes from), but, we can still try to make the most of them when they're widely available to all of us. I've recently started playing with the idea of doing more than just squeezing lemon and lime into a sauce or dressing, but actually cooking the lemons themselves before adding them to a dish. It turns out that just like garlic, roasting a lemon develops it's flavor considerably. The whole thing swells with sweetened juice, causing the flesh to burst, pushing the tender pulp out of it's thin skin. In 10 mere minutes, the lemon is transformed into a slightly more complex condiment.

One of my favorite uses for roasted lemons is in adding flavor to an easy, healthy dish. Even boneless, skinless chicken breast can become tasty and flavorful with just a few ingredients and 20 minutes of effort. The dish I made a few nights ago took about 20 minutes and was packed with incredible flavor. The sauce had a bit of sharpness to it, but was mellowed out by the roasted lemon juice and sweet garlic. For a bit of spice and crunch, I served them alongside crispy homemade potato chips. Here's how to make it for yourself:

Chicken with Roasted Lemon and Olives

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 lemons, halved, with ends cut off
3 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp chopped pimiento stuffed olives
1 Tbsp honey

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle lemon tops with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes or until starting to brown on top.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet and add chicken. Cook on medium heat until browned on one side, then add garlic (do not brown garlic) and flip chicken until it's cooked all the way through. Remove to a plate and set aside.

3. Remove lemons from oven and, using tongs, squeeze the juice into the pan over a sieve (to catch seeds). Using a fork, scoop out the pulp and add to pan. Add olives and butter to pan over medium low heat. When the sauce comes together, stir in honey and water, cooking another minute. Return chicken to pan just so it heats through, then plate dish. Enjoy!

Rosemary Thyme Chips

For these all you need do is very thinly slice potatoes, spread them out on a baking sheet and top them with plenty of ground rosemary and thyme. Salt and pepper them and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Bake in the oven until crispy and browned, 15-20 minutes.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just made this dish - it was super yummy and super easy. Thanks for the idea -- I think I'll be roasting more lemons in the future :-)